A Supreme Court of India order on Wednesday said the National Anthem should be played or sung in cinema halls across the country before the start of a feature film. The apex court said that there should be National Flag on the screen when the National Anthem is played. The order also clarified the protocol to be followed when the National Anthem is played or sung in cinema halls.
The order was passed by a division bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy on a writ petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution.
The petition had argued that sometimes the “National Anthem is sung in various circumstances which are not permissible and can never be countenanced in law.” The apex court noted petitioner’s assertion that “it is the duty of every person to show respect when the National Anthem is played or recited or sung.”
However, the order has triggered a debate among the intelligentsia of the country. Many have argued that people should not be forced to stand for the National Anthem in cinema halls. Some have cited that it would be bizarre for people to stand for the National Anthem before the start of say an adult or x-rated film.
The critics of the decision say that feeling of love and respect for the country should come to a citizen from within and something as sacred as the National Anthem should be played or sung only on special occasions.
There are also a lot of confusion over the content and implications of the order. The following text of the order may give you some clarity.
(a) There shall be no commercial exploitation to give financial advantage or any kind of benefit. To elaborate, the National Anthem should not be utilized by which the person involved with it either directly or indirectly shall have any commercial benefit or any other benefit.
(b) There shall not be dramatization of the National Anthem and it should not be included as a part of any variety show. It is because when the National Anthem is sung or played it is imperative on the part of every one present to show due respect and honour. To think of a dramatized exhibition of the National Anthem is
(c) National Anthem or a part of it shall not be printed on any object and also never be displayed in such a manner at such places which
may be disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect. It is because when the National Anthem is sung, the concept of protocol associated with it has its inherent roots in National identity, National integrity and Constitutional Patriotism.
(d) All the cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem.
(e) Prior to the National Anthem is played or sung in the cinema hall on the screen, the entry and exit doors shall remain closed so that no one can create any kind of disturbance which will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem. After the National Anthem is played or sung, the doors can be opened.
(f) When the National Anthem shall be played in the Cinema Halls, it shall be with the National Flag on the screen.
(g) The abridge version of the National Anthem made by any one for whatever reason shall not be played or displayed. We have so directed as Mr. Mukul Rohtagi, learned Attorney General for India submits with all humility at his command and recommend that National Anthem has to be respected.
The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National
Anthem as well as to the National Flag. That apart, it would instill the feeling within one, a sense committed patriotism and nationalism.
In this regard, we may refer to clause (a) of Article 51(A), Fundamental Duties occurring in Part IVA of the Constitution. It reads as follows:
“51A. Fundamental duties – It shall be the duty of every citizen of India – (a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem”.
From the aforesaid, it is clear as crystal that it is the sacred obligation of every citizen to abide by the ideals engrafted in the Constitution. And one such ideal is to show respect for the National Anthem and the National Flag. Be it stated, a time has come, the citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to National Anthem which is the symbol of the Constitutional Patriotism and inherent national quality. It does not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights, that have individually thought of have no space. The idea is constitutionally impermissible.