Observing that it is the sacred obligation of every citizen to abide by the ideals engrafted in the Constitution, and that one such ideal is to show respect for the National Anthem and the National Flag, the Supreme Court directed today (30 November 2016) that all the cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem. In this regard, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy, also issued certain other guidelines for respecting the national anthem. These directions were issued in a PIL filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 855/2016].
Supreme Court referred to clause (a) of Article 51(A), Fundamental Duties, occurring in Part IVA of the Constitution, which reads as follows:
“51A. Fundamental duties – It shall be the duty of every citizen of India –
(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.”
The Court held that from the aforesaid, it is clear as crystal that it is the sacred obligation of every citizen to abide by the ideals engrafted in the Constitution. And one such ideal is to show respect for the National Anthem and the National Flag. The court noted that a time has come, the citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to National Anthem which is the symbol of the Constitutional Patriotism and inherent national quality. It does not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights, that have individually thought of have no space. The idea is constitutionally impermissible.
The Supreme Court issued the following directions as an interim measure, to be followed by all scrupulously:
(a) There shall be no commercial exploitation to give financial advantage or any kind of benefit. To elaborate, the National Anthem should not be utilized by which the person involved with it either directly or indirectly shall have any commercial benefit or any other benefit.
(b) There shall not be dramatization of the National Anthem and it should not be included as a part of any variety show. It is because when the National Anthem is sung or played it is imperative on the part of every one present to show due respect and honour. To think of a dramatized exhibition of the National Anthem is absolutely inconceivable.
(c) National Anthem or a part of it shall not be printed on any object and also never be displayed in such a manner at such places which may be disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect. It is because when the National Anthem is sung, the concept of protocol associated with it has its inherent roots in National identity, National integrity and Constitutional Patriotism.
(d) All the cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem.
(e) Prior to the National Anthem is played or sung in the cinema hall on the screen, the entry and exit doors shall remain closed so that no one can create any kind of disturbance which will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem. After the National Anthem is played or sung, the doors can be opened.
(f) When the National Anthem shall be played in the Cinema Halls, it shall be with the National Flag on the screen.
(g) The abridged version of the National Anthem made by any one for whatever reason shall not be played or displayed.
The court directed that this order shall be given effect to within a period of 10 days and this matter will now be listed on 14th February, 2017 for further hearing.
Read full order of the court: