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Playing National Anthem prior to the screening of feature films in Cinema halls is not mandatory, but optional or directory.

January 10, 2018



Playing National Anthem in Cinema Halls not Mandatory

The Supreme Court on 9th January 2018 modified the interim order passed by the apex court on 30th November, 2016 in Shyam Narayan Chouksey v. Union of India and Others, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 855 of 2016, and made playing of national anthem in cinema halls optional. A Bench of Judges Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Dr. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud passed the said Judgment.


The facts of the case is that the petitioner has approached Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India for issue of a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction commanding the respondents to take appropriate steps for inculcating in the public a proper sense for paying due respect to the National Anthem; to issue a writ, order or direction as to what is required to be done and not to be done when the National Anthem is being played or sung; to specify what will constitute disrespect and abuse of the National Anthem; and to restrain the use of the National Anthem for any commercial exploitation or to gain financial advantage in any manner. Apart from the aforesaid prayers, there are many other prayers and one such prayer includes that no one should print the National Anthem on any undesirable object or display it in a manner and at such places which may be disgraceful and may tantamount to showing disrespect to the National Anthem.

The apex court on 30th November 2016 passed the following interim direction regarding playing of national Anthem in Cinema halls.

"(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."

Thereafter two impleadment applications were filed seeking impleadment in the matter and recall the interim order. The applications were taken on record on 9th December 2016 and prayer for impleadment was allowed but the issue of recalling the interim order kept pending.

On 14th February 2017, certain interlocutory applications were filed highlighting the difficulties being faced by disabled persons.

Thereafter the Government constituted a Committee by a Notification / order dated 5th December 2017.

After subsequent hearings and submissions the Supreme Court passed the following directions and disposed of the Writ Petition:

"(i) The Committee appointed by the Union government shall submit its recommendations to the competent authority in terms of the Notification dated 5th December, 2017, for follow up action.

(ii) The order passed on 30th November, 2016, is modified to the extent that playing of the National Anthem prior to the screening of feature films in cinema halls is not mandatory, but optional or directory.


(iii) Since the Committee constituted by the Union government is looking into all aspects of the matter, it shall make its recommendations uninfluenced by the interim directions of this Court, as clarified in our order dated 23rd October, 2017. Similarly, the competent authority shall in taking its decision(s) not be constrained or influenced by any of the interim directions.

(iv) Citizens or persons are bound to show respect as required under executive orders relating to the National Anthem of India and the prevailing law, whenever it is played or sung on specified occasions.

(v) The exemption granted to disabled persons shall remain in force till the final decision of the competent authority with regard to each occasion whenever the National Anthem is played or sung."  




Read the Judgment of Supreme Court of India in Shyam Narayan Chouksey v. Union of India and Others dated 9.1.2018



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