In 2016, the Centre passed an order declaring that the playing of the national anthem in movie theatres across the country was mandatory. This meant everyone had to stand at attention whether they wanted to or not. It did not apply to the differently abled.
In a surprising 180 degrees turn on Monday, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that the order previously passed to make the playing of the national anthem mandatory in theatres could now be modified and done away with. The Supreme Court has modified the same but a final call will be taken once the appointed panel comes up with proper guidelines.
Singing the national anthem alone does not make one a patriot
The Centre took a stand after the last hearing where the SC hinted at modifying the order to make the playing of the national anthem an option. It has been done in order to stop the moral policing that has been going on in the name of patriotism.
“Why do we have to wear patriotism on our sleeves? People go to the cinema for undiluted entertainment and to ease out. Tomorrow someone may say people should not come in shorts and t-shirts in cinema halls as the national anthem is played there. Where would this moral policing stop?” the court had said.
The government has filed an affidavit in the apex court and also said that they have appointed a committee of ministers to frame guidelines as to playing the national anthem in public places. They also requested the court to restore the status prevalent before November 2016.
“The aforesaid committee has been constituted to look into all aspects relating to playing or singing of national anthem. Upon consideration of the recommendations made by the committee, the government may bring out the requisite notification or circular or rules in this regard, if required. This court may consider the restoration of status quo ante until then, that is restoration of the position as it stood before the order passed by this court on November 30, 2016 with regard to direction to the extent that it mandates the playing of the national anthem in all cinemas before the feature film starts,” the affidavit said.
“People do not need to stand up at a cinema hall to be perceived as patriotic,” the court said, adding that it “cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, then he is less patriotic”.
“Nowadays, the anthem is played during matches, tournaments and even Olympics where half of the crowd does not understand its meaning… You can amend it and say where to play the national anthem and where it can’t be done,” the judge had said.