Supreme Court
Supreme CourtIANS File Photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it compulsory for cinema halls across India to play the national anthem before the movie begins along with an image of the national flag on the screen.

The apex court also stated that everyone present in the cinema hall must stand up and pay their respects to the national anthem.

"When the national anthem is played it is imperative for everyone to show honour and respect It would instill a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism," the court said.

"SC said that the National Anthem should not be dramatised or commercially exploited," Abhinav Srivastav, legal counsel for petitioner, told reporters.

The apex court was acting on a petition filed by Shyam Narayan Chouski, who runs an NGO in Bhopal, who had alleged that the anthem was being misused.

The issue has been debated across the country with many in favour of the anthem being sung in theatres, while others against it. Several incidents of people being thrown out of movie halls for not standing up for the anthem have also been reported. People have argued that not standing up for the national anthem does not mean disrespecting it and certainly does not prove one unpatriotic. Similarly, standing up for the anthem doesn't prove one's patriotism either.

Many are also in favour of standing during the anthem as they believe not doing so is a sign of disrespect. 

A YouTube video showing a Muslim couple being thrown out of the theatre for not standing up for the national anthem had gone viral in 2015 prompting citizens to cite it as another instance of intolerance.  Popular Bollywood actress Preity Zinta lost her temper when she saw a viewer sitting during the national anthem and threw him out of the movie hall in 2016. It was compulsory for movie theatres to play the national anthem after every movie in the 1960s. However, the practice was almost stopped in the 1990s. The Maharashtra government ordered in 2003 that the anthem must be played in all cinema halls before the beginning of any film.