NA­TIONAL AN­THEM- NOW MANDA­TORY IN CIN­E­MAS CASE - SHYAM NARAYAN CHOUSKEY V. UNION OF IN­DIA

Libertatem Magazine - - From The Courtroom -

FACTS

A PIL was filed in Supreme Court of In­dia to clar­ify when the na­tional an­them should be sung. The PIL was file by Shyam Narayan Chouskey who was seek­ing a set of pa­ram­e­ters on what amounts to abuse of the an­them. The pe­ti­tion sought the an­them to be played in cin­ema halls across the coun­try be­fore screen­ing of films and also is­sue a pro­to­col for the play­ing or singing of the an­them at func­tions where con­sti­tu­tional dig­ni­taries are in at­ten­dance. Mr Chouskey in his PIL had brought be­fore the bench ex­am­ples to il­lus­trate how pro­vi­sions of Preven­tion of In­sults to Na­tional Hon­our Act, 1971, were be­ing breached. He cited two in­ci­dents from 2015: first when a very short ver­sion of the na­tional an­them was played at the swear­ing-in cer­e­mony of AIADMK chief J. Jay­alalithaa as chief min­is­ter of Tamil Nadu and sec­ond when Ut­tar Pradesh Gov­er­nor Ram Naik stopped the na­tional an­them mid­way dur­ing an oath-tak­ing func­tion for state min­is­ters. Chouk­sey also at­tached pic­tures of pa­per food plates with the na­tional an­them printed which were strewn on streets af­ter a mar­riage func­tion.

DE­CI­SION

To in­still “com­mit­ted pa­tri­o­tism and na­tion­al­ism”, the Supreme Court or­dered that “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” as a part of their “sa­cred obli­ga­tion”. The bench gave 10 (ten) days for com­pli­ance with his di­rec­tion. The court or­der, how­ever, does not en­tail any penalty or pun­ish­ment for not stand­ing when the na­tional an­them is played and hence, it re­mains to be seen how pub­lic au­thor­i­ties and those man­ag­ing pri­vate cin­ema halls would en­sure the di­rec­tion is fol­lowed “in let­ter and spirit.” In mak­ing this or­der, the bench re­ferred to Ar­ti­cle 51(A) (a) of the Con­sti­tu­tion, which states that “it shall be the duty of ev­ery cit­i­zen of In­dia to abide by the Con­sti­tu­tion and re­spect its ideals and in­sti­tu­tions, the Na­tional Flag and the Na­tional An­them”.the Supreme Court's de­ci­sion to con­sider this PIL fol­lowed af­ter a wheel­chair-bound man was as­saulted by a cou­ple at a cin­ema hall in Panaji for not stand­ing up dur­ing the ren­di­tion of the an­them.

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