Inter-ministerial committee to investigate issue
January 9, 2018
Africa Daily Correspondent
New Delhi, India: The Supreme Court in India made an about turn on an earlier ruling that it is mandatory for cinemas to play the National Anthem before a movie is screened following a request by the government to reconsider its decision.
The court modified its November 2016 order stating it is no longer compulsory to play the Jana Gana Man, to instil patriotism and nationalism.
In its order the Supreme Court (SC) directed cinema theatres to play the National Anthem before the screening of movies and that all theatre goers must stand up in respect until the anthem ended. Disabled people were granted exemption.
The Indian government on Monday filed an affidavit asking the court to reconsider its order and announced that it was setting up an inter-ministerial committee to look potential modifications of the Prevention of Insults to National Honours Act.
The apex court reiterated that citizens should show respect for the National Anthem and the inter-ministerial committee should look into all aspects relating to the matter.
The panel will consist of 10 members -- one each from the ministries of Home, Defence, External Affairs, Culture, Women and Child Development, Information and Broadcasting, Minority Affairs, Law, Human Resource Development and from the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities.
The committee is expected to submit its report in six months.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitav Roy mandated on November 30, 2016 that the anthem be played before the screening of every film across India.
The bench said that the direction was given because love and respect of the motherland was reflected when respect was shown to the national anthem and flag.
This followed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey, a retired engineer from Bhopal, who sought norms regarding the playing of the national anthem at public places, including cinemas, and at official and other functions.
The media in India reported that the SC’s order led to widespread debate and violent protests at some theatres. A student was reportedly arrested for taking a selfie while the anthem was played. The film society petitioned the court to recall the order that was enforced within 15 days of the directive.
An image of the national flag was screened while the anthem was played before the screening of movies in cinemas across the country and the cinema’s doors were closed.
Based on the film society’s petition the SC directed the Indian government to make a call on the questions regulating the playing of the anthem.
The Indian Express reported that Justice DY Chandrachud question why people had to wear their patriotism on their sleeves
“People go to a movie theatre for undiluted entertainment. Society needs that entertainment,” he said.
The petitioners welcomed the decision.
Abinav Shrivastav, a lawyer for the petitioners said they were happy that part of their demands were met and that they would give their suggestions to the committee.