Supreme Court judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said that one need not stand up to prove his or her patriotism. It's a reversal of the apex court's December 1, 2016 order which mandated all the theatres across the country to play the national anthem before screening a film. "We do not have to sing the national anthem to be patriatotic", the court observed. The country's top legal officer also opposed recall of the November 2016 order.
"If the national anthem is being played on 15 of August or 26th of January or any official function, then of course, one has to stand up", he said.
He reiterated that a movie hall is a place for entertainment and the government has the power to change the law as the issue falls under the executive. The AG submitted that playing the Anthem would be a "unifying force" so that "when people come out of the theatre they will believe that we are all Indians". "People go to the cinema for undiluted entertainment", he clarified.
The bench responded: "Not singing national anthem in movie halls was not a sign of being anti-national".
A report in Times Of India has quoted Justice Chandrachud saying, "Why do we have to wear patriotism on our sleeves?" Can you say this is disrespect to the national anthem? Article 51A is not enforceable.
It said that it will not permit the government to "shoot from its shoulder". "It's wrong to give anyone the badge of anti-national or "unpatriotic" as he is unwilling to stand for the national anthem".
Though the apex court was of the opinion that courts can not "inculcate patriotism among people", the bench's observations on Monday contradicted its 2016 order.
The enforced patriotism of the November 2016 order has been criticised much. However, AG Venugopal said that the government would take a call, and the "shall" wasn't changed to "may" in the order. The court said that the center should not be influenced by any of the earlier orders or current observations of the Supreme Court in this matter. As Justice Chandrachud points out, the conflation of entertainment with mandatory displays of patriotism defeats the goal entirely. We do not know what the government wants.
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