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India's 'stand for the anthem' cinema order back in Modi's court

by Sasha Shattuck (2020-03-15)

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The case in which the Supreme Court ruled that cinema-goers must stand up for national anthem to show their 'respect for motherland', saw a major twist on Monday with serious differences emerging between the Chief Justice who authored the order and the judge who shared the bench with him.

Openly differing with CJI Dipak Misra and opposing his November 30, 2016 order, Justice D Y Chandrachud said, 'one need not wear patriotism on his sleeve' and that people went to movie hall for undiluted entertainment.

He also said that a person who does not stand up or sing the anthem should not be seen as a 'anti-national'.

The Supreme Court ruled that cinema-goers must stand up for national anthem to show their 'respect for motherland'

Eventually, the bench decided that the matter be best left to the Modi government. 

The bench asked Centre to take a call by January 9, 2018 on whether to bring a notification or circular on playing of national anthem in public places, including movie halls.

The 'stand up for anthem' order had been issued by Justice Misra sitting with justice Amitava Roy. It is to be noted that Justice Chandrachud's observations were very similar to the reactions which followed soon after last year's order.

The SC directions had gone viral on the social media. Many who took to Facebook and Twitter had questioned if 'patriotism can be forced down anybody's throat'. 

Justice Chandrachud (left) is in disagreement with Justice Misra (right) on the issue of standing for the national anthem at the cinema

Giving the nation a surprise lesson on patriotism and nationalism, CJI Misra said that 'it is time the people of India demonstrated their love for the motherland' and standing up while national anthem is played instills a spirit of patriotism in every one. 

Misra had said this in his interim order in a PIL filed by Bhopal resident Shyam Narayan Chouskey.

He had ordered cinemas across the country to play the national anthem before the  screening of films and said cinegoers are 'duty bound' to show respect by standing while the anthem is being played.

Justice Chandrachud made his opposition to the earlier SC order clear when attorney general KK Venugopal, whose opinion was sought on a plea for recall filed by a film society, supported the directions and said, 'There is a vast diversity based on religion, caste in India and there are also inter-religions and inter-caste problems and so it becomes necessary to instill a sense of patriotism.





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'People, when they come out of the theatre, get a feeling that first and foremost they are Indians'.

'People go to movie halls for undiluted entertainment. Society needs entertainment. Why should we assume that that if we are not standing we cease to be patriotic? 

'Next you will want people to stop wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas, saying this is disrespect to anthem. Where does moral policing stop? We must draw a line,' Justice Chandrachud told the attorney general attacking the November 30, 2016 order.

'Why don't you amend the flag code and why cannot the government take a call girls bhopa in this regard? Why do you burden the court,' he asked.  


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