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Well, I recently went to watch a movie in cinema theatres and there during the national anthem, I saw some people were not standing and as usual, I became angry as I was about to lecture them on patriotism my sister warned me by saying it’s not compulsory now to stand up to keep quiet! Well, this in a way motivated me to vent out my feelings in this particular topic at least in my article. Well Almost, one year ago the Supreme court was presented with a case on highly debatable and controversial topic on whether we need to stand for the National anthem or not? It had sparked a fresh debate over the topic. Where some people are satisfied with the ruling of the court that we do not need to show our patriotism towards our country by standing for national anthem, whereas on the other hand majority of the people are not pleased with the verdict of the court and affirm that the practice of standing for national anthem acts as a unifying force. || To Stand Or Not To Stand That Is The Question – National anthem case
Supreme court said that people need not need to stand up in cinema halls to prove their patriotism, asking the Centre to consider amending the rules that regulate playing of the National Anthem before a movie.
When was this practice started?
According to The Guardian, the practice to play the National Anthem in cinema halls in India was first introduced after the 1962 India-China war. Those were the times of high national vehemence, with India facing a doughty enemy at its doorstep. But then the National Anthem was played at the end of the movies. The moviegoers, ignorant of the order, would file out of the cinema hall soon after the end of the movie, and this was probably why the practice slowly got suspended, until 2003. In 2003, as The Huffington Post reported, “Narendra Verma of the Nationalist Congress Party lobbied and got the Maharashtra government to order cinema halls to do it again.”
The supreme court’s judgment
On 30 November 2016, the Supreme Court ordered that the National Anthem must be played in public theatres across the country before a movie. It also ordered that the national flag is shown on screen when the anthem is being played. A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy said that this would instil a feeling of constitutional patriotism and nationalism. “It is the duty of every citizen to abide by the ideas ingrained in the Constitution and as such show respect to the National Anthem and the national flag,” the bench said.
The court’s order came on a public interest litigation (PIL) by Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking framing of guidelines on the playing of the National Anthem.
Subsequent reaction of the judgment
The Supreme Court ruling invited criticism, with many asking if patriotism can be forced upon citizens. Some critics pointed out the order was likely to encourage right-wing groups pushing a brand of nationalism aimed at curbing dissent, while others said it raises questions on an individual’s fundamental rights. Since the order, several moviegoers who either refused to or could not stand up for the national anthem before the movie was forced to face violence from others in the hall, if not an arrest by the police.
The government is of the view that Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said India was a diverse country and the National Anthem needed to be played in the cinema halls to bring in uniformity and opposing a recall of the 30 November 2016 order, said it should be left open to the government to take a call on its own discretion on whether the anthem should be played in theatres and whether people should stand up for it.
The bench, comprising Misra along with Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud observed that it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the National Anthem, then he is “less patriotic”. Desirability is one thing but making it mandatory is another. Citizens cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves and courts cannot inculcate patriotism among people through its order,” the bench said.
“If the court is supposed to enforce respect for the National Anthem on citizens, it should also enforce the other fundamental duties in Article 51A,” Chandrachud said, adding that cultural and social values are inculcated by parents and teachers and not through court orders.
Not standing = violation of fundamental duties
According to article 51A of the constitution of India, which talks about fundamental duties. One of the most important fundamental duty is Abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem. And the simple way in which someone can show respect for the national anthem is by standing while the national anthem is being played. whenever any fundamental rights of any citizens get violated the immediate reaction is that they want to restore their lost right and a democratic country like India gives full privilege to its citizens for restoring their right. So, can’t that every citizen pays back to its nation by paying due respect to the anthem. For a nation to be developed what is required is not only protection of fundamental rights of citizens but also performance and obedience of fundamental rights. CAUSE IF THERE IS FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS THERE are FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES AS WELL.
Now that was philosophical aspect the legal aspect of violating fundamental rights is that no suit can be filed in the court for violation of fundamental duties as they are non-enforceable by law but While the duties as a part of the Constitution are not enforceable, violation of some of those duties has been made an offence under many laws for example:
- Respecting our National Flag, Anthem, Constitution is the first duty under Article 51A(a). If you disrespect them you will be punished under Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act, 1971.
- Protection of public property is a duty and destroying it will get you prosecuted under many laws
- Maintenance of your children and ensuring their education can be enforced under Section 125 of the Code of criminal procedure.
Not all of the duties are enforceable but some of them are made up to some extent under different statues.
What we should not forget is “Law is not merely right alone. The only real right of the man in the society is to do his duty”.
The debate on patriotism will go for infinite years. Standing for national anthem will not cause harm to anyone. Yes, to some extent it’s true that you cannot force patriotism but then playing of the national anthem in cinema halls, sports tournaments or in concerts gives a platform to the people to express their due respect to their country. If not here where else will you show uniformity or your patriotism, not everyone can go to the border and serve the nation. And YES, if you are thinking of reasons like keeping nation clean “Swach Bharat Abhiyan” or reducing pollution will show your patriotism then you already know the fate of the Abhiyan and the pollution. Moreover, people who give endless reasons for not standing by saying you cannot force or inculcate patriotism by making it moral or legal duty to stand should not forget often the good habits and practices are inculcated into children by forcing and making routine for them even when they do not agree for it because that is only when slowly and gradually they will inculcate the habits. Our history is the evidence that many leaders like Gandhi, Bhagat Singh etc. not directly watered the feeling of nationalism among Indians they first sowed the seeds of nationalism in our country. It is not always that patriotism is in the blood of every Indian, sometimes it needs to be forced so that people realize later that no one is above country.
Also, what we should also not forget is that you cannot make an anti-septic Nation without emotions. You have to invest emotions because if the nation has to survive, someone’s emotion makes him even willing to die for the country only then you have the nation. Well, the irony is you can spend minutes and hours standing in the queue for buying tickets or popcorn but then standing for the anthem is an issue.
Symbols like the national flag, national anthem, national song mean a lot to our soldiers, sportspersons it is the sound of the anthem and the touch of the flag that makes a soldier die for his country and makes a sports person fight and earn their medal.
Lastly, as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel has quoted, “ EVERY CITIZEN OF INDIA MUST REMEMBER THAT HE IS AN INDIAN AND HE HAS EVERY RIGHT IN THIS COUNTRY BUT WITH CERTAIN DUTIES.”
Whether it is made mandatory or not it is our duty to stand for our country. I will pay due respect to my country by standing for the anthem, will you do the same???
JAI HIND !!!!!
Article by Deeksha Kathayat
Dr.D.Y.PATIL COLLEGE OF LAW, Nerul
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