Centre sets up panel to study cases of attacks, harassment over National Anthem in cinemas

An inter-ministerial committee appointed by the Union home ministry in January this year will study cases of individuals who were allegedly harassed or attacked for not standing up while National Anthem was being played, in movie halls and other public places.

The 12-member panel has now asked for information on such individual cases from states and Union territories, reported Hindustan TimesThe report also added that the observations of the panel will be added to the final report, which will likely be submitted in July this year.

"The committee will also consult constitutional experts, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders such as cinema owners before coming out with its report," a senior government official told Hindustan Times. 

Representational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

The committee was set up to frame guidelines describing circumstances and occasions on which the National Anthem is to be played or sung, and observance of proper decorum on such occasions requires extensive consultations.

The committee, headed by additional secretary (Border Management), Ministry of Home Affairs, also includes representatives from various other ministries, including the ministries of defence, external affairs, culture, woman and child development and parliamentary affairs.

The Centre in its four-page affidavit said upon consideration of the recommendation made by the panel, the government may bring out the requisite notification or circular or rules in this regard if required.

On 9 January, the Supreme Court had modified its earlier order on the playing of National Anthem in cinema halls and made it non-mandatory. It took cognisance of the Centre's submission that had asked the court to modify the order.

During the hearing on a PIL on 23 October, 2017, Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, had said India was a diverse country and the National Anthem needed to be played in cinema halls to bring in uniformity. He had said it should be left open to the government to take a call on its own discretion on whether the anthem should be played in theatres and whether people should stand up for it.

The apex court had then observed that people do not need to stand up in the cinema halls to prove their patriotism and asked the Centre to consider amending the rules for regulating playing of the National Anthem in the theatres.

It had observed that it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he is "less patriotic" and the people "cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves."

The court's strong remarks had come during the hearing on a PIL filed in 2017 by Shyam Narayan Chouksey, seeking a direction that the national anthem be played in all cinema halls before the start of a film.

November 2016 order

The apex court had in its 30 November, 2016, order said that "love and respect for the motherland are reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag". The order also directed that the National Anthem be played in cinemas before every movie screening and made it mandatory for everyone to stand up during the playing of the anthem.

It had also barred printing of the flag or a part of it on any object and displaying it in such a manner at places which may be "disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect".

Passing a slew of directions, the court had said that fundamental duties in the Constitution "do not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights that have individual thought, have no space. The idea is constitutionally impermissible".

"The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the national anthem as well as to the national flag. That apart, it would instil the feeling within one of a sense committed patriotism and nationalism," it had then said.

It had also said proper norms and protocol should be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.

With inputs from PTI


Updated Date: Feb 16, 2018 13:33 PM

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