National anthem no longer must in cinema halls: Supreme Court

New Delhi, Jan 9: Modifying its earlier order, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said playing the national anthem before screening movies in cinema halls was no longer mandatory.

The ruling by a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud followed an order of November 2016 when an apex court bench, including Justice Misra, had made the playing of the national anthem compulsory in cinema halls before movies are screened.

However, the court also made it clear that where the anthem is played, people must stand up in respect. Physically challenged and senior citizens who cannot stand up may be exempted from this, it said.

The central government on Monday told the top court that it has set up an inter-ministerial committee to frame guidelines to decide the circumstances and occasions when the national anthem should be played or sung with decorum and suggested that the earlier order could be reviewed.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal urged the court to modify its 2016 order substituting “shall” with “may” for the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls.

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