Order on anthem at cinemas may change

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The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider a plea to modify its order that made the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls mandatory, even as the Centre opposed the move.

Although attorney general KK Venugopal strongly supported SC's past year order saying that playing of national anthem in cinema halls would foster the feeling of national unity and patriotism among people, the bench, however, was of the opinion that court should refrain from passing such orders.

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The bench indicated that it may modify its order of December 1, 2016, by which the playing of the anthem was made mandatory for cinema halls before the screening of a movie, and it may replace the word "shall" with "may". It granted Centre time till January 9 to "take a call one way or other" on framing of rules on playing on national anthem in theatres and other public events.

The Centre had supported the decision to make it mandatory for people to stand at cinemas for the National Anthem. He said it was necessary to have a unifying force that can be brought about by playing the national anthem.

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It had also said proper norms and protocol should be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.

Justifying its U-turn on the issue, the Bench said, "People go to movie halls for undiluted entertainment". Why should we wear patriotism on our sleeves? Not standing during the national anthem in movie halls was not a sign of being anti-national. You can pass executive orders to regulate it. "Why should you assume that everyone who doesn't stand up for the national anthem is not patriotic?" Senior counsel Chandra Uday Singh, appearing for a film society seeking recall of the November 30 order, asked then why not play the national anthem on railway platforms as well. Why should the court be burdened to decide the issue?

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He further said, " next you will want people to stop wearing tees and shorts to the cinemas saying this is disrespect to the Anthem. "It is the duty of every citizen under Article 51-A (a) to abide by the Constitution, respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem", Venugopal submitted.

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