India Supreme Court rules against national anthem at cinema

The Supreme Court of India ruled [judgment, PDF] Tuesday that the national anthem does not have to be played prior to screening of films in theaters.

An order on November 30, 2016, had required the playing of the national anthem before films in theaters. The court looked to the Constitution [text, PDF] of India which provides that “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India—(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.” A challenge was brought arguing that mandating theaters to play the anthem and requiring patrons to stand was a violation against fundamental rights and that the theater was not an appropriate place to show this respect for the nation.

The court concluded that the playing of the national anthem in theaters should be optional but emphasized that all citizens were still obligated to respect the national anthem when it was played or sung with the exemptions for those with enumerated disabilities.

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