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India’s top court says national anthem not mandatory at cinemas

Published: January 10, 2018

STORY: India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday (January 09) reversed its previous ruling that made it mandatory for cinemas to play the national anthem before screening a film and the audience must stand and listen.

The apex court’s revision came a day after the federal government filed an affidavit to reconsider its controversial order. The court said a 12-member government panel will be formed which will look at the existing rules and suggest any modifications.

In November 2016, the apex court directed that all cinema halls must play national anthem before screening of films saying its decision would help “instil a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism”.

The ruling had evoked sharp criticism with many saying it was a violation of civil liberties. Scores of people were also arrested across the country for not standing up while the national anthem was being played.

Playing the national anthem in Indian cinemas was common in the 1960s, but the practice fell out of favor as fewer and fewer people paid attention. A few states had since made it compulsory for theater halls and cinemas to broadcast the anthem, but there is no nationwide law mandating it.

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