New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday reversed its order and held that playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of films is no longer mandatory. The apex court, however, directed a government panel to frame guidelines on this sensitive matter.

The supreme court on November 30,2016 had ordered that playing of national anthem in cinema halls is mandatory. The sparked a nationwide debate.

The apex court’s Tuesday directive came a day after the Centre made a plea to modify its November order. The court has said that a 12-member inter-ministerial committee, set up by the Centre, would take a final call on various aspects including playing of national anthem in cinema halls.

A three-member bench comprising of chief justice Dipak Misra, and justices  M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud accepted the Centre’s affidavit which said the 12-member panel has been set up to suggest changes in the 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act and said that the committee should “comprehensively” look into all the aspects related to playing of national anthem in its entirety.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that the committee, which was set up through a notification on December 5 last year, will submit its report within six months.

The counsel appearing for petitioner Shyam Narayan Chouksey, referred to various instances when due respect was allegedly not shown to national anthem and said that scope of provision related to it should be expanded.


Meanwhile, some petitioners raised the issue of Article 51 A (a) of the Constitution which say that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag and the national anthem.