Supreme Court refuses to recall order on National Anthem

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The Supreme Court on Monday put the onus on the Centre for amending the laws for regulating the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said the Centre has to take a call uninfluenced by its earlier order on the playing of national anthem in the theatres.

"Why should we assume that if people do not sing the national anthem, they are less patriatotic?"

"Why do we have to wear patriotism on our sleeves?"

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On November 30 past year, the Supreme Court ordered that the national anthem must be played in cinemas before a movie's start to instil a feeling of "constitutional patriotism" and a sense of "committed patriotism and nationalism". You do not have to sing National Anthem to prove your patriotism. It granted Centre time till January 9 to "take a call one way or other" on framing of rules on playing on national anthem in theatres and other public events.

The Supreme Court observed that the government can bring in a regulation or ordinance in this regard on the basis of its stand. The court said that the center should not be influenced by any of the earlier orders or current observations of the Supreme Court in this matter. The court said that it was fundamental duty of every citizen to respect National Anthem and National Flag and it was desirable that anthem was played in public events but judiciary should not step in to make it mandatory in cinema halls. Where do we draw a line on moral policing?

"Next thing will be that people should not wear T-shirts and shorts to movies because it will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem... where do we stop this moral policing?"

The government argued that India is a diverse country and the national anthem can be a unifying force. They were using violence against those not standing up during the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls. Senior counsel Chandra Uday Singh, appearing for a film society seeking recall of the November 30 order, asked then why not play the national anthem on railway platforms as well.

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