National anthem in Cinema halls: Govt urges Supreme Court to modify order
The central government, which had earlier backed the Supreme Court order making it mandatory to play the National Anthem just before the screening of a film, on Monday urged the apex court to take back its order on the grounds that it had set up a committee to look into the issue.
The government has said it doesn’t want to be prejudiced by the court’s views on the subject.
“The court may consider restoration of status quo ante…,” an affidavit, filed by an under-secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, said. The officer said the government had set up a committee to examine the issue — playing the National Anthem and the decorum to be maintained while it is being played.
The officer said the court had asked the government to exercise its discretion and take a call on the matter. If required the government would change the rules or bring in a necessary notification, he said.
The inter-ministerial committee will comprise representatives of several ministries, such as law, defence, home, external affairs, culture, women and child development, I&B, parliamentary affairs, minorities, education and disability. The committee will take at least six months to submit its recommendations after extensive discussions with stakeholders, the affidavit said.
The court had on November 30, 2016, mandated all movie theatres to compulsorily play the National Anthem before screening a film and ensure that people stand up and pay their respect to it. This had drawn criticism from liberals who had dubbed the court move as “pop nationalism”.
The court had subsequently diluted the order to let the handicapped and the sick to sit through it. But, on second thoughts, the court wondered aloud if it should have mandated it and asked the government to take a call on it. On October 23, 2017, the court expressed concern over the manner in which its order was being misused to dub people “anti-national”.
The court had then wondered why citizens had to prove their patriotism and asked the central government to bring in rules to this effect if it wanted. “People go out for a movie for entertainment. Sometimes, they go in their shorts.
Next, we may have to say they can’t wear shorts. Where do you draw the line at moral policing?” Justice DY Chandrachud had said sitting alongside CJI Dipak Misra.