Don’t ‘Over-Stretch’ Our Order on Compulsory National Anthem to the Courts, Says SC Bench

Citing the cinema hall precedent, petitioner wants the national anthem to be played before the commencement of proceedings in all courts across the country.

Supreme Court is pictured through a gate in New Delhi, India May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

No national anthem in the courts, for now. Credit: REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

New Delhi: Days after ruling that all movie halls across the country must play the national anthem before the screening of any movie, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea that all court proceedings too should be preceded by the national anthem – with everyone in the court room, including the judge, standing at attention in a mark of respect to the country.

The plea was made by a spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay, before Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy – the same judges that passed the movie hall order. But the bench said it was not inclined to entertain the plea when Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the petitioner should file a proper application.

“Whether right or wrong, our order should not be overstretched. Bar (referring to Upadhyay) should show some restraint,” the bench said.

Earlier in the morning, Upadhyay mentioned the plea before the bench which had on November 30 made it mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem before the screening of a movie – with the audience commanded to stand and show respect.

The bench has then sought the AG’s assistance to learn his view on the plea of Upadhyay.

In its November 30 order, the apex court had 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. That apart, it would instil the feeling within one a sense committed patriotism and nationalism.”

It had said that when the anthem is played the national flag shall be shown on the screen and the order should be given effect in a week’s time.

The bench had also said that prior to the anthem being played or sung in the cinema hall, the entry and exit doors shall remain closed so that no one can create any kind of disturbance which will amount to disrespect to the national anthem and the doors can be opened once it is over.

The order has been criticised by jurists, scholars and lawyers, who have said the Supreme Court has gone outside the boundaries of law.

With inputs from PTI