At a time when fundamentalists are shoving patriotism down people’s
throats, which is no less than anarchy camouflaged as nationalism, the Supreme
Court has reined in a part of it by stating that there is no need to stand up
at cinemas while playing the National Anthem. In the Court’s own terms, an
Indian need not “wear his patriotism on his sleeve". The Court criticized
in severe terms the moral policing being unleashed in the society, expressing
concern over the situation stating that one day this could come to “people should not wear t-shirts and shorts
to movies because it will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem”. The
Court’s liberal stand is laudable in the context of branding anyone with a
difference of opinion as “anti-national” and requiring them to “go to Pakistan”.
The Supreme Court had held in November 2016 that national Anthem
must be played in all cinema halls prior to the show, which was now challenged
before the Court in a petition filed by Kodungalloor Film Society in Kerala. The
Govt. supported the Order stating that it promotes unity among the people of
diverse cultures, citing that it would encourage the audience to feel they are
The liberal stand was adopted vehemently by J. Chandrachud, who
countered every aspect of the Govt.’s pleas that suggested that the Court
enforce force patriotism in the garb of Art.51-A (a) of the Constitution, requiring
citizens to respect the National Flag and the National Anthem. The Court stated
that it is for the Govt. which also had the power, to take the call to enforce
such duties, and not that of the Court. J. Chandrachud referred to the Flag
Code and observed that there was no mandate requiring people to stand up at the
National Anthem being sung at a cinema hall.
The Govt. finally decided to take the call and the Court left it to
the Govt.’s discretion to bring out a Notification stating whether or not it is
mandatory to play the National Anthem at cinema halls. The case was heard by
Hon’ble CJ Dipak Misra, J. Chandrachud and J. Khanwilkar, and has been posted
for next hearing in January 2018.
Such a decision comes as a bold reinstatement of the Constitutional
provisions that profess freedom of the citizens rather than a forced sense of
patriotism, which is today widely used to promote political agenda of bringing
out communal divisions, while making it look like the opinionated citizen is
betraying the Country.