The Supreme Court has directed the Union Government to take a call on whether the people should stand up for the National Anthem at cinema halls. Tomorrow if someone says don't wear shorts and t-shirts to cinema halls because National Anthem is being played, then where do we stop this moral policing?
The Supreme Court on Monday put the onus on the Centre for amending the laws for regulating the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls.
LiveLaw reported that the Supreme Court hinted at recalling its order, and that it is up to the government to decide. The 2016 order assumed an unverified and unverifiable patriotism deficit. Two, can't the audience stand up for a few minutes in silence and show their respect to the anthem, by inference to the country?
The government argued that India is a diverse country and the national anthem can be a unifying force.
"People must feel this is my country and this is my motherland", the bench said, adding,"At the root of protocol for National Anthem, is respect for national identity, integrity and constitutional patriotism". What Supreme Court has said is absolutely right and the observation of Justice Chandrachud is correct.
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Justice Chandrachud disagreed. He said Article 51A is very broad and also makes it the fundamental duty of citizens to "develop scientific temper, humanism, spirit of inquiry", etc. Citizens can not be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves and courts can not inculcate patriotism among people through its order.
Since the 2016 verdict, there have been multiple incidents in which people have been beaten up for not standing up during the national anthem. When we say "take a call", needless to say, the discretion rests with the central government.
Putting the final nail on the coffin, Justice Chandrachud said, "The point is that values are inculcated - not mandated".
On December 30, the court said the differently-abled people were not required to stand up. Will it amend the Flag Code by January 9, 2018 and strengthen its nationalism narrative? What can we infer on what the government's thinking is on this issue from that action alone?