National anthem row: Supreme Court’s order to be challenged by Jehovah’s Witnesses

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Updated: January 9, 2017 12:20:13 PM

History might repeat itself when the Supreme Court restarts hearing cases on February 14, as the Jehovah's Witnesses, including a US-based general counsel, are in process of filing an application in the apex court against standing up for the national anthem

supreme coutt, jehovah's witnessess, national anthem row, national anthem , supreme court national anthemEarlier on August 11, 1986, the SC had allowed Emmanuel, a college professor from Kerala and said that forcing the children to sing the national anthem was a fell under the fundamental violation of the religion. (PTI)

History might repeat itself when the Supreme Court restarts hearing cases on February 14, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, including a US-based general counsel, are in process of filing an application in the apex court against standing up for the national anthem. Earlier on August 11, 1986, the SC had allowed Emmanuel, a college professor from Kerala and said that forcing the children to sing the national anthem was a fell under the fundamental violation of the religion. Last year, when a Supreme Court bench chaired by Justice Deepak Misra deemed it compulsory for every Indian to stand up when the national anthem played, as a show of respect, the Jehovah’s Witnesses must have felt a sense of deja vu. But in February when the SC restarts hearing on the matter, the religious sect would seek to challenge and overturn the apex court’s decision that every cinema hall in the country would play the national anthem and as a part of their “sacred obligation”, everyone present in the hall was to stand up to show respect. 30 years ago, Emmanuel had appealed to the SC on the behalf of his children and had cited religion to safeguard their right to not sing the anthem at school.

Among other things, the sect also hopes for the court’s intervention to order that followers of the Jehovah’s Witnesses would not have to stand in cinema halls for the national anthem. The religious sect seeks to make the court convinced that while it does respect the nation and its anthem, the religious beliefs it follows prevents its members to stand up or sing the national anthem. The sect is known to have secured many such judgements in their favour in several countries.

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One of the sources from the sect told IE that nobody could doubt their patriotism and stand up for the anthem was not allowed in their religion. He said that despite the fact that they were contesting the decision, they still respected the flag and the anthem. The source believed that the sect wanted to convince the court like it has in many other countries including the USA and Canada. Meanwhile, former Law Minister and senior advocate Kapil Sibal told the reporters that he had indeed been approached by the sect’s representatives. Sibal said that the sect had informed him of its objectives. Sibal further said that their stand did not mean that they would ever do anything to disrespect the nation’s flag or anthem. These were issues of significant consequences, he added. It has to be noted that the Jehovah’s witnesses are an evangelical sect based on Christianity, solely believing on the text of the bible. The group is far detached from the mainstream Christianity and is not down to celebrate easter or Christmas. It also rejects the concept of the Holy Trinity.

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