Anthem not must but stand if played -R Balaji
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that cinemas need not compulsorily play the national anthem but if they did, everyone in the audience except the physically challenged must stand up.
The apex court modified its own order issued in 2016 after the Centre, in keeping with its altered stand that was articulated on Monday, said the earlier directives on the national anthem had been abused and they could be misused in "thousands" of inconceivable ways.
The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud modified the interim order of November 30, 2016, that had made it mandatory for movie halls to play the anthem.
"Playing of national anthem prior to screening of a cinema is not mandatory," the bench said. "However, people in the audience are bound to rise from their seats whenever a cinema hall plays the national anthem."
It clarified that the directive for people to stand up "would not be mandatory in the case of disabled persons".
The modification came after a 90-minute hearing during which attorney-general K.K. Venugopal urged the court to make it optional for cinemas to play the anthem.
Venugopal, representing the Centre, said the directives had been abused by people to file cases against others, including Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. "Your lordships cannot conceive of the thousands of ways it can be misused," he told the court.
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