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It's official: No need to stand when national anthem plays as part of a film

The Supreme Court has clarified that the audience needs to stand only when the anthem is played before the film begins, not during the screening.

Our Correspondent

One doesn’t have an option when the national anthem is played before a film screening in theatres. However, audiences need not worry now about having to stand up when the anthem plays as part of a film. 

The Supreme Court today clarified that the audience need not stand when the anthem is played as part of a film, newsreel or documentary, according to a report by the Press Trust of India.

A bench of justice Dipak Misra and justice R Banumathi made this clear after one of the petitioners said the apex court should clarify if people are expected to stand when the anthem is played in a film, newsreel or documentary.

“It is clarified that when the national anthem is played as part of the storyline of a film, newsreel or a documentary the audience need not stand,” the bench said.

The bench, which said the issue raised by the petitioners needs to be debated, has fixed the matter for further hearing on 18 April.

In November last year, the apex court had passed an order making it mandatory to play the national anthem before the screening of a film begins in theatres across the country. It also made it mandatory for people in the auditorium to stand as a mark of respect to the anthem.

The order was passed after a person named Shyam Narayan Chouksey from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, had filed a public-interest petition seeking a direction to play the national anthem in cinema halls across the country before a film begins and to fix proper norms regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.

The apex court had observed then that the time had come when citizens must realize that they live in a country and are duty-bound to show respect to its national anthem, which is a symbol of constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality.

The question of whether one was expected to stand up for the anthem during a film arose because Aamir Khan's Dangal (2016), which was released in December, had a scene in which the anthem plays in the background. It caused confusion among audiences on whether the law expects them to stand up and resulted in discord in some places.