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Per supreme court or­ders, cin­e­mas across In­dia soon will be re­quired to play the na­tional an­them be­fore ev­ery screen­ing, ac­com­pa­nied by an im­age of the In­dian flag. Movie­go­ers must stand for the an­them, and the­ater ex­its should be shut for its du­ra­tion so as to avoid “dis­re­spect­ful milling.”

The rul­ing by the two-judge bench echoes re­cent sen­ti­ment in Delhi’s halls of gov­ern­ment that cit­i­zens should en­gage in a more per­for­ma­tive na­tion­al­ism.

The­aters have 10 days to com­ply with the supreme court’s or­der, though the rul­ing may be ap­pealed. The judge who read out the or­der minced no words in pro­mot­ing na­tion­al­ism as the mo­tive for the rul­ing.

In­dian con­sti­tu­tional schol­ars have crit­i­cized the de­ci­sion as im­ping­ing on the right to free­dom of speech. Some have even ques­tioned the rul­ing’s le­gal­ity. Each of In­dia’s 29 states has dif­fer­ent laws around the an­them.

Free speech, in this case, could be de­fined as sim­ply sit­ting through the na­tional an­them. Over the past few years, some In­di­ans who have done so have been as­saulted by fel­low movie­go­ers. In one highly pub­li­cized in­ci­dent, a Bollywood celebrity hounded a boy out of a the­ater for not stand­ing. More re­cently, a hand­i­capped man in a wheel­chair was beaten and ejected for do­ing the same.

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