Ahmedabad: The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday said it is not mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem before the start of a film, modifying its 2016 order that required them to do so.
The order came a day after the Union government filed an affidavit asking the court to withdraw its previous order and saying it had formed an inter-ministerial committee to frame new guidelines and decide on a course of action.
“The aforesaid Committee has been constituted to look into all aspects relating to the playing or singing of the National Anthem. Upon consideration of the recommendations made by the Committee, the Government may bring out the requisite notification or circular or rules in this regard, if required. This Hon’ble Court may consider the restoration of state quo ante until then, i.e. restoration of the position as it stood before order passed by this Hon’ble Court on 30.11.2016, with regard to direction ‘(d)’ in the said order to the extent that it mandates the playing of the National Anthem in all cinemas before the feature film starts,” said the affidavit, which was filed by Deepak Kumar, an undersecretary in the Union government.
The committee will include the additional secretary for border management in the ministry of home affairs and will have representatives from the ministries of defence, external affairs, culture, women and child development, parliamentary affairs, information and broadcasting, minority affairs, legal affairs, and school education and literacy, and the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities. The committee will submit its report within six months of the date of its constitution, the government said.
The Supreme Court hearing in the matter in 2016 saw serious differences emerging between then chief justice Dipak Misra and justice D.Y. Chandrachud, with the latter saying “one need not wear patriotism on his sleeve.” “People go out for a movie for entertainment. Sometimes they go in their shorts. Next we may have to say they can’t wear shorts. Where do you draw the line at moral policing,” Chandrachud said.