Playing national anthem in movie theatres not mandatory, says Supreme Court

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(Online Desk)

In a major U-turn, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the playing of national anthem is not mandatory in cinema halls before screening of film, modifying its earlier order.

In an affidavit filed before the court, the government has on Monday said that it has formed an inter-ministerial committee to frame new guidelines and decide further course of action.

According to the affidavit, the committee was constituted by the government on December 5.

The government submitted that the panel will examine the issue at length and will come up with recommendations on playing the national anthem.“Upon consideration of the recommendations made by the committee, the government may bring out the requisite notification or circular or rules in this regard, if required,” read the affidavit.

It said an inter-ministerial committee has been set up as framing of guidelines describing circumstances and occasions on which the national anthem is to be played or sung, and observance of proper decorum on such occassions requires extensive consultations.

The government said the top court may “consider the restoration of status quo ante until then i.e restoration of the position as it stood before the order passed by this court on November 30, 2016” as it mandates the playing of the National Anthem in all cinemas before the feature film starts.

The government said that inter-ministerial committee will be headed by Additional Secretary (Border Management), Ministry of Home Affairs, with representatives from various other ministries, including the Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Culture, Woman and Child Development and Parliamentary Affairs.

It would also have representatives of Ministries of Information and Broadcasting and Minority Affairs, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of School Education and Literacy and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability, the affidavit filed by Centre said.

It said the committee has to consider a wide range of issues relating to the national anthem, and have extensive discussions with various ministries. The committee will give its recommendations in six months from the date of its constitution, it said.

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.

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