The Supreme Court observed that the government can bring in a regulation or ordinance in this regard on the basis of its stand. The Bench had described the playing of the anthem in cinema halls as an opportunity for the public to express their "love for the motherland".
"Why do we have to wear patriotism on our sleeves?"
A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, indicated that it might modify the earlier order and replace the word "shall" with "may".
The bench responded: "Not singing the national anthem in movie halls is not a sign of being anti-national". The cinema halls are places of entertainment.
Justifying its U-turn on the issue, the Bench said, "People go to movie halls for undiluted entertainment".
"Do people need to stand up in theatres to show our patriotism?" "They are not less patriotic", Justice Chandrachud added.
The court's directions had come on a PIL filed by one Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking directions that the anthem should be played in all the cinema halls before a film begun.
Justice Chandrachud, however, took a leaf from his childhood, remarking that he had witnessed people leaving the cinema hall when the Anthem is played after the show.
The government argued that India is a diverse country and the national anthem can be a unifying force. "When people came out from theatres, they would have a feeling of belonging to the nation", he said.
"Its objective is the loyalty of the population, to neutralise divisiveness, foster unity in diversity". "Needless to say that the discretion to regulate would also include not to regulate also, if the Centre so wishes", the court said. "Are we [Supreme Court] supposed to enforce all this?"
"What stops you from exercising your power". You take the call. Why should we take on your burden?
The SC also reiterated that Article 51A was a fundamental duty that is unenforceable. Justice Chandrachud asked Venugopal.
The court also banned the printing of the anthem or a part of it on any object and displaying it in a manner that may be disrespectful or "disgraceful to its status". We sang both the National Anthem and "Our Father". "As courts, why should we assume that if someone says I do not want to sing the anthem or stand up, I am not patriotic, or much worse that I am targeted for being an anti-national". Why government is reluctant to take a call.
The next hearing of the case has been scheduled for January 9.