| 19 Jul 2024
Court order does not cover National Song in theatres, issue open for schools

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court, which earlier last week clarified that its orders of November last year only applied to the playing of the National Anthem in theatres and not to any scene in a film depicting the Anthem, has now said that it was not making any orders with regard to the National Song.

A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra referred to Article 51 A (a) of the Constitution and said it deals only with the National Anthem and the National Flag and not the National Song and so it had clarified that it has “kept alive” such a plea only for the National Anthem without expressing any view on it.

“Therefore, we do not intend to enter into any debate as far as the National Song is concerned,” the bench which also comprised Justices R Banumathi and Mohan M Shantanagoudar said.

The bench, which was hearing a plea on 17 February 2017 seeking a direction for framing of a policy to promote and propagate the National Anthem, the National Flag and the National Song, tagged the petition with another similar plea on the issue which is pending before it.

Regarding the prayer seeking a direction to ascertain the feasibility of singing or playing the National Anthem and the National Song in Parliament or a state Assembly, public offices, courts and schools on every working day, the apex court said it would keep alive the prayer regarding schools only.

“In the earlier writ petition, a contention was advanced by the Attorney General pertaining to schools and, therefore, as far as the prayer relating to ‘schools on every working day’ is concerned, it is kept alive,” the bench said.

“We may hasten to clarify when we have kept the prayer alive, that does not mean that we have expressed any opinion on the same,” the apex court said.

During the hearing, senior advocate Vikas Singh appearing for petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay said one of the prayers in the plea for framing of a national policy was similar to the matter which is pending before the apex court.

During the hearing, Singh argued that it is a matter which the government should look into as “even our legislators do not know what is the National Anthem and what is the National Song”.

“It should be a part of the curriculum in schools. There should be a feel of patriotism among the children,” he said.

The court had on 30 November last year ordered cinema halls across the nation to mandatorily play the National Anthem before screening of a movie when the audience must stand and show respect.

The order had come on the PIL filed by one Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking directions that the National Anthem should be played in cinema halls across the country before a film begins and proper norms and protocol be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.

The court had also observed that “time has come when citizens must realise they live in a nation and are duty-bound to show respect to the National Anthem which is a symbol of constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality”.

The court had earlier last week clarified that the audience need not stand when the National Anthem is sung or played in the storyline of a feature film or part of a newsreel or documentary.

In mid-December, the Government wrote to the Chief Secretaries of all states and Union Territories to comply with the Court order but made it clear that there should be no commercial exploitation of the Anthem.

Also read: Govt writes to states - no commercial exploitation of national anthem