THE SUPREME Court Friday agreed to examine if there should be guidelines for playing the national anthem and asked the Centre to respond to a PIL that has pressed for specific norms on how, when and where the anthem can be played.
A bench led by Justice Dipak Misra issued a notice to the government, which will have to respond within three weeks to a PIL filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey, a retired engineer in Bhopal. Chouksey had brought before the bench examples to illustrate how provisions of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, were being breached.
Chouksey’s counsel Abhinav Shrivastava urged the court to lay down norms regarding playing of the national anthem in cinema halls, entertainment programmes and in official functions.
While admitting the PIL, the bench held that the petitioner sought to prevent commercial exploitation of the national anthem. The government is likely to make its stand clear on November 30, when the PIL is heard next.
Section 3 of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, says, “Whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Indian National Anthem or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment…” General provision of orders issued by the Centre on January 5, 2015, states: “Whenever the National Anthem is sung or played, the audience shall stand to attention.
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However, when in the course of a newsreel or documentary the Anthem is played as a part of the film, it is not expected of the audience to stand as standing is bound to interrupt the exhibition of the film and would create disorder… rather than add to the dignity of the Anthem.”