Indian Supreme Court (SC) has instructed that the national anthem be a must at Indian movie halls as this will stimulate a feeling of dedicated patriotism, nationalism and love for the motherland. Displaying of the national flag on screen while the anthem is played will create a feeling of integrity and legitimate patriotism for our country, feels the Supreme Court. The practice of showing respect to the anthem and flag is ingrained in our national identity and national integrity.

Few years back, when the anthem was played in schools, film shows or theatres as the flag waved on the screen, the respect shown to anthem was reportedly lacking. Therefore according to the orders of the court, before every screening at all movie halls, every person present there have to stand up to show respect to our national anthem. “The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag. That apart, it would instill the feeling within one, a sense committed patriotism and nationalism,” said the bench, providing 10 days for compliance with its direction. Further, the bench directed that the Indian citizens must demonstrate respect to the national anthem and the national flag and called it ‘imperative’ to show them honour and respect. When the anthem is played after the interval, all doors in a cinema hall should remain closed to prevent any kind of disturbance or disorder.

The Supreme Court has also debarred the commercial misuse of the national anthem and also showing disgrace to its status. According to the Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act, national anthem is sung in various circumstances which are not permitted and can never be tolerated in law. Sensitivity of specific rights in this issue is not tolerated. The court also directed that the anthem cannot be dramatized and used in variety TV shows.

“It is because when the National Anthem is sung or played, it is imperative on the part of every one present to show due respect and honour. To think of a dramatized exhibition of the National Anthem is absolutely inconceivable…when the National Anthem is sung, the concept of protocol associated with it has its inherent roots in national identity, national integrity and constitutional patriotism” it held.

However, the interim order,  came in response to a petition from a former soldier seeking to stop the national anthem being routinely ‘dishonored’ – was described as worrisome by several activists. The national anthem is already played before movies in some states – such as Maharashtra – but the measure is often controversial, with instances of people beaten up for not standing up for the anthem. In October, a couple assaulted a man at a cinema in Goa for not rising during the national anthem only to discover he was paralytic and on a wheelchair. However, the court has said that the citizens were bound by law to show respect when the national anthem is played or recited or sung.

by Ashwani Srivastava

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