No need for Anthem in cinemas: Centre to Supreme Court


After a hearing that lasted more than an hour, the Supreme Court today modified its earlier order, and directed that playing the National Anthem in cinema halls is not mandatory.

In an affidavit filed on Monday, the Union Home Ministry had asked the apex court to restore the position that existed prior to November 30, 2016, when a bench of Justices Dipak Misra made it a must for the anthem to be played before every show at cinemas.

He said that the committee would take at least 6 months to study all aspects relating to the singing of the National Anthem and also the manner in which respect ought to be given. Venugopal said the Centre has constituted a 12-member inter-ministerial group to study and suggest possible changes in the Insult to National Honour Act, 1971 for incorporating measures to enhance respect for the national anthem. "It is submitted that the government has made a decision to constitute an inter-ministerial committee headed by additional secretary, MHA with representatives from ministries of defence, external affairs, culture, women and child development, parliamentary affairs, information and broadcasting, minority affairs, legal affairs, HRD", Centre said in its affidavit. The government while approaching the Supreme Court on this matter asked to halt the practice until proper rules are framed.

The 2016 order had said that all viewers in the cinema halls should stand up when the national anthem was played. "The government may bring out the requisite notification or circular or rules in this regard, if required", said the affidavit.

"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 national anthem, then he is less patriotic". Criticising the government's inaction, Justice DY Chandrachud, who was part of the bench, asked what was stopping it from amending the Flag Code. In doing so, it declined to modify its November order under which it had issued a slew of directions on when and how the national anthem must be played.