An activist hailing from Bhopal, Shyam Narayan Chouksey will approach the inter-ministerial committee to make national anthem compulsory not only in theatres but also in schools.
Although the Supreme Court has ruled that it is not mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem before screening a film, the man who had filed a petition to make it compulsory is all set to approach the inter-ministerial committee to make it obligatory not only in theatres but also in schools.
An activist hailing from Bhopal, Shyam Narayan Chouksey told Times of India, “I will make representation before the inter-ministerial committee that will be constituted by the government to look into the issue.”
Why was the inter-ministerial committee formed?
The formation of the inter-ministerial committee was mentioned on Tuesday by an SC bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, that made playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of movies optional, modifying its earlier order.
The Centre's decision to set up the committee came after the top court in October last year observed the people "cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves" and it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she is "less patriotic".
The first meeting of the committee, which will have joint secretary-level officers from 11 ministries and departments of the central government, will be held on January 19, a Home Ministry official said. It will be headed by B R Sharma, a special secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The committee will take a final call on the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls and public places and recommend, if needed, changes in existing laws.
The Home Ministry official said the committee will give recommendations regarding regulations of playing/singing of the national anthem and suggest changes in the acts and orders relating to the Insult of National Honour Act 1971.
Why did Chouksey file a petition?
It was in 2001 while watching Karan Johar directorial Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham that Chouksey got upset with the way the national anthem was treated. The film has national anthem playing in one of its scenes but the activist was disappointed with people’s behavior during the scene as no one from the audience except Chouksey got up for the anthem.
The 77-year old Chouksey then started a campaign against the dishonor of the national anthem and in 2002 he moved a petition before Madhay Pradesh high court against dishonor to the anthem. The court banned the screening of the film until the scene was deleted.
He continued to fight for the respect of the national anthem and collected more evidences that showed people disrespecting it. He argued that under Article 51(A) of the Constitution, it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to show respect to the national flag and the national anthem.
What is the impact of the SC ruling on theatre owners?
Two states are unclear about the new SC ruling on national anthem being optional. Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh had issued notifications prior to November 30, 2016, making it mandatory for cinema halls to play the anthem.
While few theatre owners say they will discontinue playing national anthem, others say they will play national song Vande Mataram.
Theatre owners are also of the opinion that the situation has become ambiguous post SC’s decision as this will create tensions between people who support the new decision and those who are against it.(With PTI inputs)