Centre requests Supreme Court to withdraw national anthem in movie halls order

Representational image. People standing for national anthem in a cinema hall

"It causes no harm and it is natural to stand up when the anthem is played", she said. A final call can be taken on the issue once a ministerial panel comes up with its guidelines on this, the government has said.

The Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday that it has made a decision to constitute an inter-ministerial committee to frame guidelines for occasions on which the national anthem is to be played or sung in movie halls and theatres.

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The November 2016 order of the Supreme Court also mandated that people would have to stand up in respect for the National Anthem when it was played in cinema halls.

The government on Monday said the Supreme Court may "consider the restoration of status quo ante until then, that is, restoration of the position as it stood before the order passed by this court on 30 November, 2016" as it mandates the playing of the National Anthem in all cinemas before the feature film starts.

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The Bench had observed that the protocol of showing respect and honour to the anthem was rooted in "our national identity, national integrity and constitutional patriotism". The government while approaching the Supreme Court on this matter asked to halt the practice until proper rules are framed. The bench hearing the issue is being headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

The court said that the committee should comprehensively look into all aspects. Asking why people have to "wear patriotism on their sleeves", the court observed, "People go to a movie theatre for undiluted entertainment".

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The views of the Centre were expressed after the Supreme Court in the last hearing hinted at modifying the order on the compulsory playing of the national anthem so as to stop moral policing in the name of patriotism. "Nowadays, the anthem is played during matches, tournaments and even Olympics where half of the crowd does not understand its meaning", said Justice DY Chandrachud.

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