During today’s hearing on the PIL, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said India was a diverse country and the national anthem needed to be played in the cinema halls to bring in uniformity.
He said it should be left open to the government to take a call on its own discretion on whether the anthem should be played in theatres and whether people should stand up for it.
“What is stopping you from amending the Flag Code? You can amend it and say where to play national anthem and where it can’t be done.
Nowadays, anthem is played during matches, tournaments and even Olympics where half of the crowd does not understand its meaning,” Justice Chandrachud said.
The bench said “You (Centre) take a call. Government should not show any reservation to the amendment as the court would not allow it to shoot from its shoulders”.
The court then asked the Centre to consider taking a call by January 9, the next date of hearing, on amending the national flag code for regulating the playing of national anthem in cinema halls across the country.
It said the Centre has to take a call uninfluenced by its earlier order on the playing of the national anthem in the theatres.
The apex court had in its December last year’s order said that “love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the national anthem as well as to the national flag”.
It had also barred printing of the anthem or a part of it on any object and displaying it in such a manner at places which may be “disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect”.
Passing a slew of directions, the court had said that fundamental duties in the Constitution “do not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights that have individual thought, have no space. The idea is constitutionally impermissible”.
“The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag. That apart, it would instil the feeling within one a sense committed patriotism and nationalism,” it had then said.
It had also said proper norms and protocol should be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.