The Supreme Court on Monday stepped into the national anthem row, a controversial decree which requires people to stand in cinema halls when the national anthem is played, and said that people do not need to stand up in movie halls to prove their patriotism.
The apex court added that people "cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves," and asked the Centre to consider changing the rules which regulate the playing of the national anthem before a film in the country.
The SC said that it cannot be assumed that a person is "less patriotic" if they do not stand up for the national anthem.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud said that the society does not need "moral policing," and said that if this continues then the government next time "will want people to stop wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas saying this would disrespect the national anthem."
The top court said that it will not allow the Centre to "shoot from its shoulder" and asked the government to take a call on the issue of regulating the playing of the anthem before a film.
The bench suggested that it could make changes to its order issued on November 30, 2016, which made the playing of the anthem mandatory in movie halls before the screening of a film, and said that it may replace the word "shall" with "may" in the order.
"People go to cinema halls for undiluted entertainment. Society needs entertainment. We cannot allow you (Centre) to shoot from our shoulders. People do not need to stand up in cinema halls to prove their patriotism," the bench said.
"Desirability is one thing but making it mandatory is another. Citizens cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves and courts cannot inculcate patriotism among people through its order," the bench added.
The remarks by the apex court came after a petition was filed by Kodungallur Film Society in Kerala to recall the November order passed on a PIL filed last year.