India is riddled with incidents of verbal harassment towards those who fail to show their patriotism by standing up in movie theatres for the National Anthem. In an order that will provide much clarity to the issue, the Supreme Court has said that people do not need to stand up in the cinema halls to prove their patriotism. The Apex Court has asked the Centre to consider amending the rules to regulate the playing of the National Anthem before a film. The bench also indicated that it may modify its order of 30 November, 2016, by which the playing of the anthem was made mandatory in the movie halls before the screening of a film, and may replace the word ‘shall’ with ‘may’.
Observing that the society did not need ‘moral policing’, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the next time, ‘the government will want people to stop wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas saying this would disrespect the National Anthem.’
“A Pakistani is here,” these were the words offered to a wheelchair bound man earlier in October for not standing up during National Anthem in a Guwahati movie theatre. Not considering the disabled or having an exemption clause in the ruling is just one of the many loopholes in the order. The victim of the incident, Arman Ali took to Facebook to elaborate on the ordeal, “Today, I took my nieces and nephew for a movie. As usual they played the National Anthem before the movie and my niece and nephew stood up. However, since I am a wheelchair user, I did my best by sitting upright. At the end of the Anthem, I heard a comment from behind “saamne ek Pakistani baitha hai.”
The Supreme Court had in November 2016 ordered all cinema halls to play the National Anthem before the screening of a film. After making it non mandatory for people to stand up during National Anthem, the SC hints at modifying its order making anthem must in theatres too. The rule of playing National Anthem in theatres will be reconsidered. The Supreme Court said the center has to take a call and should be uninfluenced by the top court’s November order.