“Why do people have to wear their patriotism on their sleeve?”- Supreme Court on National Anthem in movie theatres

In a change of stance by the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Judge Justice D Y Chandrachud along with a bench comprising of 2 more judges, was critical of last year’s apex court order making it mandatory for movie halls to play the national anthem before the start of a film and questioned “why do people have to wear their patriotism on their sleeve?”

The Supreme Court further conceded that its order which was passed last year is misused to call people “anti-national” and thereby, left it to the government to frame rules in this regard.

It further asserted that it will not allow the government to “shoot from its shoulder” and asked it to take a call either way on the issue of regulating the playing of the anthem before a film.

The bench also indicated that it may modify its order of 30 November 2016, by which the playing of the anthem was made mandatory in the movie halls before the screening of a film, and may replace the word “shall” with “may”.

The Supreme Court on November 30, 2016, had made it mandatory for movie halls to play the National Anthem before the screening of movies.

There have since been numerous incidents where people have been harassed at movie halls for not standing during the Anthem. In some cases, it has also turned out that the person who faced the ire of fellow moviegoers for not standing was differently abled.

“Desirability is one thing but making it mandatory is another. Citizens cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves and courts cannot inculcate patriotism among people through its order,” observed the bench on Monday.

However, Chief Justice Dipak Misra, member of the 3-member bench was part of the original bench which gave the November 30 order and did not seem completely in agreement with Justice Chandrachud and said: “This is not wearing patriotism on your sleeve. This is not that.”

Recalling the entire order received some opposition from the interveners Venugopal said that singing of the anthem was a “unifying factor” in a country as diverse as India.

-with inputs from the Indian Express.

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