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AIR spotlight summary on “Supreme Court directive to play National Anthem in Cinema Theatre”.



AIR spotlight summary on “Supreme Court directive to play National Anthem in Cinema Theatre”.


  • Supreme Court has mandated that it is mandatory to play National Anthem in cinema halls at the beginning of the movie and all those present in the cinema hall should stand up as a mark of respect. There use to be a similar kind of practice earlier when at the end of the movie National Anthem was played. This practice was discontinued about 40 years ago because of some disrespect showed by some people in the cinema hall towards National Anthem.
  • The Supreme Court judgement is welcomed by all political parties. Maharashtra in 2002 framed rules and laws that the National Anthem will be played in all movie halls. Tamil Nadu had also a similar kind of a law.

Observation on the issue

  • There are two observations to make. One is that the people in the country respect National Anthem. People stand up spontaneously when the moment National Anthem is sung.
  • During the Chinese aggression it was made compulsory for all cinema halls to play National Anthem and the National Flag will be displayed which was done for a purpose. During that time the emotions were aroused and the government wanted to inculcate the patriotic feelings.
  • If the younger generation has been oblivious about national symbols then the fault lies elsewhere. This problem can’t be solved by insisting in cinema theatres to sing National Anthem. One can’t say if we don’t play National Anthem in the cinema theatres we will become less patriotic or less nationalistic.
  • There is no empirical evidence to show that people have become less nationalistic or less patriotic. Whenever nation faces a crisis people rise as one man and defends the nation as we have seen in these many years. This shows people are patriotic.

What the Constitution says?

  • Article 51A of the Constitution says that the citizen must show respect to the constitution, National Flag, National Anthem and so on.
  • Constitution says the citizens should respect National Anthem. There is no law which compels the citizens to sing National Anthem. There is no clarity under what rule or law the Supreme Court has given this direction. Article 51A is not judicially enforceable, these are the duties laid down for citizens.
  • The 1986 judgement by Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy and Justice M.M Dutt had observed that “there is no provision of law which obliges any one to sing National Anthem and our tradition, philosophy and constitution teaches and preaches tolerance. So let’s not dilute it.”

What the Critics say?

  • This is the domain of the executive and the legislature and not of the Supreme Court.
  • Many have called this as the judicial overreach. The question remains is what if a person can’t sing due to some reasons or a person is dumb.
  • Under Article 142 the Supreme Court decrees and orders are enforceable throughout the country but those are in respect of a cause or matter which comes up for the Supreme Court. There are doubts whether this particular order comes under that category.
  • People have inherent feeling and respect for national symbols, that’s the reasons people spontaneously stand up whenever National Anthem is sung. No one should be enforced or compelled to do that and respect should come within.
  • Former Attorney-General of India Soli Sorabjee has also said he doesn’t agree with Supreme Court order.
  • The Supreme Court used an expression “Constitutional Patriotism” but patriotism cannot be constitutional. Patriotism is something which is belongingness to a particular nation, an inherent feeling within the citizen of the country.
  • Compulsion from an outside source will create certain feelings and adverse reaction which is not good.
  • Our founding fathers of constitution were aware and that is why they also observed that the respect for the nation and its symbols should not be enforced by the state.

Need of the Hour

  • The moral values and the national pride is not the obligation of only the armed forces, this is the fundamental duty of all citizens. The Children in the country should be taught lessons in nationalism and patriotism right from the beginning.
  • Right from childhood we should inculcate in the minds of our children respect to the great National symbols. If the nation doesn’t exist, we don’t exist. These symbols are the symbols of sovereignty and honor of the nation. Every citizen has the right to uphold it and respect it and that is the reason it has been mentioned in the constitution under Article 51A.


One can presume that the Supreme Court order when analyzed and interpreted it may lead to some kind of change in the way children are taught in schools and the need to inculcate these values right from the beginning of school days. If we do this certainly we will have a generation growing up respecting the great symbols.