In an odd twist, the Supreme Court on Wednesday passed an order that the National Anthem must be played in cinema halls before every screening of a movie. This order comes with caveats — everyone in the theatre must stand up and show their respect, the National Flag must be displayed on the screen, the entry and exit doors have to 'remain closed' while the anthem is being played, the abridged version shall not be played, it cannot be commercially expropriated and that it cannot be printed on an 'undesirable object'.
Naturally, reactions came in thick and fast.
Congress came out in support of the Supreme Court decision, but raised questions over the implementation. "The 130-year-old party has seen the bigger independence movement. Therefore, we have strongly supported all aspects of genuine nationalism. We support, in principle, everything that enhances the respect and dignity of this nation. Therefore, we support this in principle," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.
Singhvi also raised concerns over its implementation, that there shouldn't be any disrespect "for any of the national icons, flag or anthem" and that "the remembrance to the nation whether by saluting the flag or by National Anthem is a noble virtue".
The apex court, in its ruling, said that "love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag. A time has come when citizens of the country must realise that they live in a nation and are duty-bound to show respect to the National Anthem which is the symbol of constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality".
Echoing the Supreme Court ruling, a happy Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that the decision will "inculcate a sense of patriotism among people, particularly the younger generation". BJP also welcomed the order saying that it will strengthen the spirit of nationalism and the idea of 'Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat'. Spokesperson Nalin Kohli said the order is a reminder to people that they should have affection and duty towards national institutions and symbols. "Its a welcome order. Of late, there have been certain controversies. People are not standing up in cinema halls when national anthem is being played."
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi welcomed the ruling, but also displayed doubts as to whether it would help boost patriotism. Owaisi, talking to the media on Wednesday, said the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 and the Union Home Ministry's advisory regarding the national anthem do not talk about citizens requiring to stand up when the anthem is being rendered, and suggested to the government to amend the law and revise the advisory. The act prohibits desecration of or insult to the Constitution, national anthem, flag and the country's map. "What I believe [is that] children should be taught about (respecting the anthem) from very young age... The government needs to amend the 1971 act and correct the MHA advisory," the Hyderabad MP said.
Samajwadi Party MP Ram Gopal Yadav too welcomed the ruling, "It is a good decision and I welcome it."
Congress' Manish Tewari questioned the criticism surrounding the ruling. "If Indians will not stand in respect for their own anthem who else will?"
Surprised at criticism of SC ruling on#nationalanthem.If Indians will not stand in respect for their own anthem who else will- the Paki's?
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) December 1, 2016
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah questioned this reaction by Tewari and wanted to know if "only movie goers need lesson in patriotism?"
State assemblies? For that matter why not courts, every morning as they are called to order? Do only movie goers need lesson in patriotism? https://t.co/lmh5EE2Pdw — Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) December 1, 2016
With inputs from PTI