SC modifies order, says playing of national anthem in cinema halls is not mandatory

Why it is in news?

  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday modified its November 30, 2016 interim order and made it optional for cinema halls to play the 52-second national anthem before every show.
  • A Bench of SC  clarified that it is not mandatory to play the anthem before screenings in cinemas.
  • It left the choice of whether to play the anthem or not to the discretion of individual cinema hall owners.
  • However, if the anthem is played, patrons in the hall are bound to show respect by standing up.
  • The court clarified that the exception granted to disabled persons from standing up during the anthem “shall remain in force on all occasions”.
  • The court pointed out its judgment in the famedBijoe Emmanuel versus State of Kerala  case, which dealt with three children belonging to the Jehovah Witnesses sect refusing to sing the anthem in the school assembly though they stood up in respect, to drive in the point that standing up is indeed a sign of “proper respect” to the anthem
  •  “Proper respect is shown to the National Anthem by standing up when the National Anthem is sung,” the Bench quoted  Bijoe Emmanuel verdict.

Interpret the 1971 Act

  • Petitioner  argued that the guidelines in respect of the anthem by the inter-ministerial panel would hardly accomplish compliance from the public.
  • The Supreme Court to intervene and interpret the 1971 Act in the light of Article 51A of the Constitution which calls for ''respecting the ideals of the nation like the Constitution, the National Flag and the National Anthem.'
  • The Act is totally widely worded. What will constitute disrespect of the National Anthem? The government’s guidelines have no teeth. The court will have to interpret respect to the anthem

Report due in six months

  • The modification will be in place till the Union government takes a final decision on the recommendations of a 12-member high-profile inter-ministerial committee regarding the occasions, circumstances and events for the solemn rendering of the anthem.
  • The ministerial panel will examine whether any amendments are necessary to the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act of 1971 to expand or specify the meaning of “respect” to the national anthem.
  • The committee, which was set up on December 5, 2017, will submit its report in six months.
  • The 1971 Act states:   “Whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Jana Gana Mana or causes disturbances to      any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”


The Hindu

Posted by Jawwad Kazi on 10th Jan 2018