Supreme Court: No need to stand during national anthem to prove patriotism

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Supreme Court: No need to stand during national anthem to prove patriotism

People need not stand up in the cinema halls to prove their patriotism, observed Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud.

The Supreme Court today asked why the Centre can't amend the law to make it mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem, and why the burden should be "thrown on the judiciary." The apex court has asked the Centre to consider amending the rules for regulating playing of the national anthem in the theatres and said that people are not required to stand up in the cinema halls to prove their patriotism.

In November, the top court had passed an order saying cinema halls should play the national anthem before films.

But today, Justice DY Chandrachud asked, "Why doesn't the Centre amend the law. Why should the burden be thrown on the judiciary. Tomorrow you will say ban people from wearing T-shirts and shorts to the cinema hall because it's an insult to national anthem. Where do you draw a line? Where does this moral policing stop?"

"People go to cinema halls for undiluted entertainment. Why should we make choices for them? Why should we assume that if someone doesn't stand up for anthem in the cinema hall, he is not patriotic?"

The court observed that government can bring in legislation and amend the flag code.

The Centre, represented by Attorney General KK Venugopal, was clearly of the opinion that the earlier order should not be modified.

"Ours is a country with vast diversity of religion, region, race and caste, it becomes necessary to have a unifying force. By playing national anthem, people can come out believing we are all Indians," he said.

This contention was strongly rebutted by Justice Chandrachud, who said that patriotism is instilled by a larger democratic and political process , not by making the national anthem mandatory in cinema halls.

Though the Supreme Court has not modified its order today, it's likely to do so in the next hearing on January 9. The Centre will also have to clarify if they are willing to amend the flag code.

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