NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday hinted it would be open to review its order mandating the playing of the National Anthem in cinema halls, observing that “one does not have to wear patriotism on sleeves all the time and moral policing needs to be stopped”.
But the bench said the area of regulation lies with the executive and the government should take a final call on amending the national flag code, if required.
At present, the order remains unmodified and the National Anthem will continue to play in cinema halls.
The bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud, was hearing a petition filed by the Kodungalloor Film Society of Kerala to recall the November 2016 order.
Justice Chandrachud said: “People are afraid they might be called anti-national if they oppose the court’s order. People go to movie halls for entertainment and they definitely need it, not moral policing.”
Interestingly, it was a bench headed by Justice Misra which passed the order last year, saying the practice would “instil a feeling of committed patriotism and nationalism”.
While referring to the flag code, Justice Chandrachud observed, “There is no mandate that the people should stand up when the National Anthem is sung in a cinema hall.”
“Tomorrow if someone says don’t wear shorts and t-shirt to cinema halls because the National Anthem is being played, then where do we stop this moral policing? Should we wear our patriotism on our sleeves?” the bench remarked.
The court asked the Centre, “Why don’t you bring regulations if you want people to mandatorily stand up during the National Anthem? Why should we take on your burden?” The next hearing is on January 9.