The country’s top court said that playing of the national anthem in cinema halls before a screening of movies would now be optional and in that case the audience will have to stand as a show of respect.
The court’s direction came a day after the Centre made a plea to the apex court to modify its November 30, 2016 order that made it mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem before screening of a film during which the audience was also required to stand. The order had sparked a nationwide debate.
The court, while emphasising that citizens were bound to show respect to the national anthem, said that a 12-member inter-ministerial committee, set up by the Centre, would take a final call on various aspects including playing of national anthem in cinema halls.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that the committee should “comprehensively” look into all the aspects related to playing of national anthem in its entirety.
“The interim order passed on November 30, 2016 is modified that playing of national anthem prior to screening of film in a cinema hall is not mandatory as directed,” the bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.
The top court, while disposing of the petitions pending before it, made it clear that the exemption granted earlier to disabled persons from standing in cinema halls when national anthem was being played, shall remain in force till the committee takes a decision.
The bench accepted the Centre’s affidavit which said the 12-member panel has been set up to suggest changes in the 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.