The Supreme Court on Tuesday said playing the national anthem before screening movies in cinema halls is not mandatory.
The order comes a day after the Centre urged the court to re-examine its earlier order which had made playing the National Anthem mandatory in theatres.
The apex court modified its November 30, 2016, order by which it had made playing of the anthem mandatory in cinema halls before the screening of a film.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said a 12-member inter-ministerial committee, set up by the Centre, would take a final call on the playing of national anthem in the cinemas.
The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said the committee should comprehensively look into all the aspects relating to the playing of national anthem and allowed the petitioners to make representations before the panel.
Modifying the earlier order, the SC also said that the playing of the anthem must be left to the discretion of the cinema owners. However, patrons have to mandatorily show respect in case the cinema does play the anthem, the SC added. A person who stands up shows proper respect, it futher said.
Centre had set up a 12 member committee to study and change provisions in the National Honour Act. This was being to enhance respect for the National Anthem he also said. He said that the committee would take at least 6 months to study all aspects relating to the singing of the National Anthem and also the manner in which respect ought to be given. The recommendations would be made to the Centre, the AG also submitted.
The SC accepted the suggestion of the Centre and said that playing the National Anthem would be henceforth optional. The SC said that the order was being passed taking into consideration that there were many instances of vigilante patriotism.
In a dramatic change of stand, the Centre had on Monday suggested that the Supreme Court modify its earlier order making it mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem before screening a feature film.
The Minister of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday informed the Supreme Court via an affidavit that playout of National Anthem in cinema halls should not be made mandatory for the time being, and asked for time for framing concrete rules.
The Centre asked the SC to put on hold its order that mandated playing the National Anthem in cinema halls earlier, informing the top court that it had formed an inter-ministerial committee to frame new guidelines pertaining to the playout of National Anthem in movie halls. It has asked for a deadline of six months for the same.
On November 30 2017, the court had said that it was mandatory for movie theatres to play the National Anthem before a movie starts. The SC also made it mandatory that all theatre owners must display the National Flag on the screen before the start of a movie.