Supreme Court on Tuesday said playing the national anthem before screening movies in cinema halls is not mandatory, a day after the government asked the top court to put on hold its November 2016 order.

Special Correspondent

Earlier On November 30, 2016, the Supreme Court had ordered all cinemas to play the anthem before screening a film “for the love of the motherland”.

It also said the national flag must be displayed on the screen through the duration of the anthem and that movie-goers should stand in a show of respect.

In its Tuesday order, 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 AM Khanwilkar and DY 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.

While disposing of the petitions pending before it, the bench made it clear that the exemption granted earlier to disabled persons from standing in the cinema halls when the national anthem is being played, will remain in force till the committee takes a decision.

On Monday, the government told the court it had set up an inter-ministerial committee to frame guidelines on playing the national anthem in cinemas and other public places and needed six months to finalise them.

The Centre’s decision came after the top court had in October last year observed that the people “cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves” and it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she is “less patriotic”.

Observing that the society did not need “moral policing”, the court had then said that next time, “the government will want people to stop wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas saying this would disrespect the national anthem”.