The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to consider amending the national flag code for regulating the playing of national anthem in cinema halls across the country. A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said the Centre has to take a call uninfluenced by its earlier order on the playing of national anthem in the theatres. During the hearing, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said India was a diverse country and the national anthem needs to be played in the cinema halls to bring in uniformity. The bench indicated that it may modify its order of December 1, 2016, by which the playing of the anthem was made mandatory for cinema halls before the screening of a movie, and it may replace the word “shall” with “may”. The apex court had last year ordered the theatres across the country to mandatorily play the national anthem before a movie and the audience must stand and show respect, in a bid to “instil committed patriotism and nationalism”. It had said that “love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the national anthem as well as to the national flag”.
The court had barred printing of the anthem or a part of it on any object and displaying it in such a manner at places which may be “disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect”. The court’s directions had come on a PIL filed by one Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking directions that the national anthem should be played in all the cinema halls before a film begins.
It had also said proper norms and protocol should be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.