This article was written by Somya Jotwani, a student of Faculty of Law, Delhi University.

“National integration cannot build by brick and mortar, or by chisel and hammer. It grows silently in minds and hearts of people”.


Issued directions that all the cinema halls in India should play their National anthem before the feature film and all present in the hall are obliged to stand by to show respect to national anthem as part of their “sacred obligation”.

A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy remarked that movie screens shall have the image of National flag when the national anthem is played and the doors of the cinema halls will remain bolted during anthem so that no disturbance is caused.

The SC order was criticized by Conference for Human Rights and Kondungallur Film Society, said that forcing national anthem on people in cinema halls would not promote nationalism. The bench stoutly defended and said it doesn’t mean to moral policing and there was no compulsion on people to sing the national anthem but people must stand up.

IN BIJOE EMMANUAL CASE (1986) judgment:

The facts were that in school, while the national anthem was being played, some children of certain religious community, stand up for national anthem but they refused to sing the anthem. On such the apex court held that they have right not to sing the anthem and this would not amount to disrespect.

It has been clarified by the apex court on order dated 30th November 2016,that when national anthem is being played during feature film or as a part of newsreel or documentary, and then the audience need not stand.

The big debatable question arises whether this decision standing in cinema hall when national anthem is being played or sung violates our Right of freedom of speech and expression which is embodied under Article 19(1) (a).

Our constitution embodied fundamental rights and duties both .Where Article 19 (1) of our constitution guarantees to all citizens the right of freedom of speech and expression .Article 19(3) gives utmost power to state to make laws to impose reasonable restrictions in the freedom conferred by Article 19.

With such right there comes a duty which is casted on every citizen of our country.

Article 51-A of the constitution enjoins a duty on every citizen of India ‘to abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and National Anthem’.

Playing of national anthem should be perceived as an expression to show the love and respect to constitutional nationalism. This would instill a feeling of love, respect and unity among citizen’s .Patriotism and nationalism will be just a word among people if that substratum of honor can’t be shown.

Coming to other side of the coin .The forced patriotism is not the light one .YES, it can be rightly said that it’s wrong on part of people to disrespect the national anthem by not standing up while it’s sung or played in cinema halls but it can’t be ignored to force the feeling of patriotism.

There are several cases of assaults and harassment in the name of patriotism. The SC judgments met by disapprovals from film critics to politicians and have been seen as a move to shove patriotism on people.

 These bouts of patriotism have in the past caused serious problems.

Why such provision for cinema halls?

How the patriotism can be measured by standing up while national anthem is played in cinema halls? It’s argued that it is played on international sporting events, diplomats events, on national days but why in cinema theatres.


In October 2016, writer and disability rights activist Salil Chaturvedi, who himself is wheelchair bound, was assaulted for not standing up during the national anthem in a theatre in Goa. One has to imagine just how much of a blind patriot must one have to be to hit a wheelchair bound man because his sense of patriotism got offended?

While there is no harm in standing up to the national anthem, there is definite harm if someone is humiliated for not doing so.

Sadly enough, another incident where a 59 year old man was allegedly assaulted in movie theatre in Mumbai for not standing up when the national anthem was played on screen in the movie” Dangal”.

In the Bijoe Emmanuel case also its said: there is no provision of law which obliges anyone to sing the National Anthem nor it is disrespectful to the National Anthem if a person who stands up respectfully when the National Anthem is sung does not join the singing.

It have been argued that even in Section 2 of the 1971, Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971 where the eight instances that constitute dishonor to the Indian national flag Is mentioned and nowhere its expressly or implicitly mentioned in this statutory legal provision that the act of not standing or even not singing is “dishonor”.


Such order of Supreme Court was praised and criticized and it also deemed necessary and unconstitutional by either side of centre.

Yes it’s true that constitution gives us right of freedom of speech and expression but that cannot be construed for showing disrespect towards our motherland. The spirit of such expression such right cannot dilute our epitome of national honor.

National Anthem is centripetal to basic conception of sovereignty and integrity of India. Such order might not be ideal for some but 52 seconds of standing for the country won’t pester us. Our conduct of showing respect to our country is our exhibit for same. No one is permitted to prave the path individualism in the name of freedom of expression.

“Our tradition teaches tolerance; our philosophy preaches tolerance; our constitution practices tolerance; let us not dilute it.”

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