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Supreme Court says playing national anthem mandatory in cinema halls

The Supreme Court has passed a ruling on the mandatory playing of the national anthem in cinema halls before the screening of any movie. 

Pic: Still from Airlift(2016)

Shriram Iyengar

The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, passed a ruling that the national anthem should be played in cinema halls before movie screenings at public theatres. The court also set a 10 day deadline for cinemas and multiplexes to carry out the directive. 

"Respect must be shown as the national anthem is symbol of patriotism. People shouldn’t follow paths of individually perceived notion of freedom,” Justice Dipak Misra said in his judgment.

The court banned any 'dramatisation' during the playing of the National anthem, while also outlawing the playing of an abridged 52 second version of the song. 

Speaking about the decision, Justice Misra said, "You don’t mind restrictions when you are abroad. But when you are here, you don’t want restrictions. Directions are to be issued for love of the motherland.”

The national anthem is already played mandatorily in certain states like Maharashtra. The decision, however, has seen lengthy arguments. The implementation of this mandatory rule has also resulted in people being beaten up occassionally. However, the court has exempted disabled individuals from complying to this rule. 

The ruling follows the PIL filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey's PIL regarding a framework for playing of the anthem before film screenings. The PIL was filed in 2003, but was shot down last year by the Madras High Court which said it was not mandatory for people to stand for the national anthem. The Home ministry had also put out a directive which said, "When in the course of a newsreel or documentary, the anthem is played as a part of the film, it is not expected of the audience to stand as standing is bound to interrupt the exhibition of the film and would create disorder and confusion rather than add to the dignity of the anthem." However, this directive had no suggestions with regards to the anthem being played before the screenings of films. 

As part of its directive, the court said, "It is the duty of every citizen to abide by the ideals ingrained in the constitution and as such show respect to the national anthem and the national flag." 

The decision has already started a conversation on Twitter, with some humorous results.