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No need for national anthem in theatres: Centre asks SC to put order on hold

In an affidavit filed by the home ministry, the government asked for a “restoration of the status quo ante” until the guidelines were formalised. The Chief Justice of India will hear the matter on Tuesday.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2018 07:55 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
National anthem,Supreme Court,Free speech
People stand up for the national anthem before the start of a movie at a theatre in Indore.(HT Photo)

The Centre on Monday asked the Supreme Court to put on hold its November 2016 order that made playing of the national anthem mandatory in cinema halls.

The government told the court it had set up an inter-ministerial committee to frame guidelines on playing the national anthem in cinemas and other public places and needed six months to finalise them.

Until then, the court should “consider restoration of status quo ante, which is restoration of the position as it stood before the order was passed by the court on November 30, 2016,” home ministry said in an affidavit, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times.

The affidavit was filed in response to the court asking the government to come out with clear directives on playing the anthem. A bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra will hear the case on Tuesday.

The government said it had set up a panel on December 5 and was working on norms to describe circumstances and occasions that would merit playing or singing the national anthem and the proper way to do it. It would require extensive consultations with various ministries.

The court on November 30, 2016 ordered all cinemas to play the anthem before screening a film “for the love of the motherland”. It also said that the national flag must be displayed on the screen through the duration of the anthem and that movie-goers should stand in a show of respect.

The government backed the order, which had come on a public interest litigation seeking that the national anthem be played in all cinema halls before the start of a film and a protocol be fixed for its singing at official functions and programmes.

But a year later, the order came in for criticism from the Supreme Court itself, with Justice DY Chandrachud asking on October 23, 2017 if people “should wear our patriotism on our sleeves”?

The court asked the Centre to consider amending the national flag code for regulating the playing of the anthem.

First Published: Jan 08, 2018 20:27 IST