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National Anthem – Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971Why in News?·      Supreme court in its latest decision (Jan 2018)has made it optional for Cinema Halls, to play the National Anthem before theopening of the show. Previously through an Interim Order in November 2016,Supreme court had made it mandatory for Cinema halls to play National Anthembefore every show. Supreme Court in its 2016 order observed that this practicewill instil Patriotism and nationalism among the citizens.·      D.Y. Chandrachud, one of the three judges of theBench, which gave the decision, remarked that there was no need for an Indianto “wear his patriotism on his sleeve” and earlier he had also doubted thewisdom of asking patrons of cinema to visibly demonstrate their patriotism eachtime they entered a theatre to watch a film.

The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act (1971)To abide by the Constitution and respect itsideals, the national flag and the national anthem. The Prevention ofInsults to National Honour Act (1971) prevents disrespect to the Constitutionof India, the National Flag and the National Anthem. This act extends to wholeof India.According to Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act,1971, if somebody intentionally prevents the singing of the Indian NationalAnthem or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall bepunished with imprisonment for a term, up-to three years, or with fine, or withboth Under Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act of 1971 acandidate is disqualified from contesting elections to parliament and statelegislature for 6 years if he is involved in: (a) Offence ofinsulting the National Flag. (b) Offence ofinsulting the Constitution of India.

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(c) Offence ofpreventing the singing of National Anthem. Other Dimensions of Preventionof Insults to National Honour Act (1971)·      The Chhattisgarh government has stated that anysketch or photo of Mahatma Gandhi depicted under the Swachh Bharat Missionshould not be used in public toilets, on trash cans, or at other filthy placesunder the provisions of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.The government’s decision came after a division bench of the Chhattisgarh HighCourt issued notices to the state and the Central government on a petitionseeking intervention against the improper use of Gandhian logos.

·      It was suggested that in honour of the armedforces and to protect their dignity as they serve away from their families anddevoid of privileges such as leave on festivals and weekends to convenient worktimings etc, the armed forces of this country should be included in thePrevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, alongside the IndianNational Flag and National Anthem. Analysis of earlier Supreme Court OrderThough, article 51A say that it is the fundamentalduty of the citizen to respect the national anthem, but the earlier SupremeCourt order to mandatorily play the national anthem in cinema halls before eachscreening do raise questions about the violation of the citizens fundamentalrights. This can be analysed in following way- ·      Right toFreedom (Article 19)-The Supreme Court has repeatedlyemphasised the value of free speech, noting that the freedom of speech andexpression lies at the foundation of all democratic organisations.

Peoplego to cinema halls to relax and enjoy the movie, therefore asking them to standup during the national anthem violates the right to freedom. Court iscurtailing individual freedom by enforcing somebody to do something inparticular way.·      Right to Personal Liberty (Article 21) isgetting affected.·      Aggravates the moral policing: Enforcing Article 51A’s mandate to value ourrich heritage and composite culture is not appropriate as Radical groupsmay resort to violent means to force citizens to follow this order. Thus, itthreatens the integrity of citizens including children, senior citizens anddifferently abled people. American singer Luke Bryansummarised the essence of the national anthem: “Any time I sing the anthem, itis an honour and my heart beats out of my chest” For this kind of feelings, nomoral policing is necessary.

·      Judicial Overreach/ Judicial Activism- JudicialOverreach is undesirable in the mature democracy. Some other example of Judicial Activism ·      Liquor ban on national highways.·      Direction to the Government of India to regulateBitcoins.·      The SLP (Special Leave Petition) in case of Mahakaleshwartemple in Ujjain regarding deterioration of the lingam in the temple due to useof adulterated milk in worship.

Other lacunae in the JudgementIf anybody doesn’t stand up during NationalAnthem, what are the consequences, is unclear.Arguments in Favour of Imposing Nationalism ·      In MN Roy’s view, nationalism was representativeof the desires and ambitions of a group of people within a certain geographicalarea, as opposed to people uniting based on class. Nationalism thus emphasisedthe placing of one’s country’s interest over the interest of the rest of theworld.·      Before the beginning of Cricket & footballmatches also, (which are the entertainment media) the national anthem is sung.So why not before any film?·      Some supporter of National Anthem Order think,that there are some Fringe elements, who do not support the idea of India and Indianness,this sort of order may help in their attitude change over longer period.·      When people argument about increasing events ofvigilantism through such orders people supporting SC order argue that for anybodywho takes law in his hand (i.e.

such vigilant) there is a special law to deal upon,so that should not be an issue.·      Being a multicultural country in India more than700 languages and dialects are spoken. The national anthem works as a unifier.Arguments against imposing Nationalism·      How singing National Anthem in Cinema Hall canjudge anybody’s Patriotism.

Why anybody should wear his patriotism on hissleeves. ·      Ravindra Nath Tagore mentioned, “when the organisationof politics and commerce, whose other name is the Nation, becomes all powerfulat the cost of the harmony of higher social life, then it is an evil day forhumanity.” He thus cautioned against an exclusionary and self-aggrandizing formof nationalism.·      Our national movement also did not in forcenationalism on somebody as our nationalism is not fascism.·      Although Article 19 imposes restriction on thefreedom of speech, but the restriction had to be based on the law enacted byparliament, in this case there is no such law. Right to speak also includes Rightnot to speak so court cannot compel somebody to do something in a particularway. Way ForwardFor a mature democracy, there should not be any special emphasis, onthe occasion and manner in which citizens ought to display and demonstratetheir patriotism.

You cannot enforce rationalism or nationalism on somebody. SingingNational Anthem should not be a test of Patriotism. Doctrine of Separation of Powers should be followed, andJudiciary should not intervene in the legislative matters.

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