| 18 Jul 2024
Playing of National Anthem mandatory before screening of films: Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: The playing of the National Anthem should be made mandatory before the start of a film in a cinema hall, the Supreme Court said today.

A bench of the apex court headed by Justice Dipak Misra said that people must show respect to the National Anthem and the national flag and called it “imperative”.

It said this would “instill a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism” in citizens. The bench issued guidelines on the national anthem, saying it cannot be commercially exploited and that no entity could either dramatise it or use it in abridged form.

The court added that when the Anthem is played in movie halls, it should be accompanied with images of the national flag on screen and people must stand up. It however clarified that the disabled would be exempt. The Court also said exits should be closed when the Anthem is played.

The court said: “Time has come for people to realise that the national anthem is a symbol of constitutional patriotism…people must feel they live in a nation and this wallowing individually perceived notion of freedom must go…people must feel this is my country, my motherland.”

Prohibiting use of the national anthem on “disgraceful/undesirable” places and on objects, the top court noted that at the root of the guidelines is national identity, integrity and constitutional patriotism. It gave states and union territories a week to ensure awareness and compliance with the directives.

The court order came on a public interest litigation filed by retired Bhopal-based engineer Shyam Narayan Chouksey who had brought before the bench examples to illustrate how provisions of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971 were being breached.

Chouksey’s counsel Abhinav Shrivastava urged the court to lay down norms regarding playing of the national anthem in cinema halls, entertainment programmes and in official functions.

The court has set a 10-day deadline for cinema and multiplexes across India to carry out the directive.

Playng of the National Anthem and showing the National Flag was a regular practice in theatres until about four decades earlier, and had been abandoned because people moved around at that time or left to use public conveniences.

Actor Harsh Nagar, who has been campaigning for this for several years, thanked the court for seeing “the righteousness of getting National Anthem back in our lives for making our citizens more proud and patriotic Indians”.

Nagar, who is a familiar face in the advertising industry, had started a petition in 2011 by writing series of letters to various government functionaries approached Delhi High court to direct the central and state governments to make it mandatory for all the theatres to play national anthem before each show

“I am extremely delighted with this Supreme Court's judgment; I feel all my efforts since 2011 have reaped a reward. There were many hurdles in getting National Anthem to theatres in India. Some people opposed it for their political agenda, some people opposed it for its execution but all the press conferences in 18 capital cities that I held and various letters to the Chief Ministers of all states and knocking the doors of the High Court have brought us in this historical move” he said.