Since the national anthem is hardly played in theatres now, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed that it should be played first and not at the end of the film screening and everybody should stand up and the national flag should be shown on screen.
The apex court said in its ruling on a petition filed by an NGO head Shyam Narayan Chouski from Bhopal that the national anthem should not be commercially exploited or dramatized.
“When the national anthem is played it is imperative for everyone to show honour and respect.It would instill a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism,” it said.
It was made mandatory for cinema theatres to play the national anthem after every movie way back in the 1960s but it has almost disappeared by the end of the 1990s. The Maharashtra government, however, made it mandatory to play it before screening any film since 2003.
The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 is an Act of the Parliament of India which explicitly prohibits desecration of or insult to the country’s national symbols, including the National Flag, The Constitution, Indian map and the National Anthem.
While the rules are strictly observed in case of our National Flag, playing the National Anthem has taken a back seat in the last two decades. Now that the National Anthem is back in the theatres or cinema halls, it is mandatory for all to stand up or face prosecution under the 1971 Act.
As provided in Section 3 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, “whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Jana Gana Mana or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”
Further, anyone having already been convicted of an offence under this section 3 is again convicted of any such offence shall be punishable for the second and for every subsequent offence, with imprisonment for a term, which shall not be less than one year.
In addition, as per orders issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, whenever the anthem is sung or played, the audience shall stand to attention, which means those moving away from theatres or disturbing those in attention will also face violation charges under section 3 of the Act.
Moreover, even foreigners and foreign visitors or residents should stand in attention during the time the National Anthem is played as such incident at Infosys Convocation in Mysore a decade ago had evoked criticism and apology from the company.