“Jana gana mana adhinayaka jaya he……” the very words of the Indian National Anthem instil patriotism in every Indian. The general norm followed while singing national anthem is that, everybody has to stand erect to denote their respect and patriotism towards the country. Article 51A(a) imposes the fundamental duty on every citizen to respect the National Anthem. Further, section 3 of THE PREVENTION OF INSULTS TO THE NATIONAL HONOUR ACT, 1971, levies punishment on all the persons who intentionally prevents or causes disturbances to the singing of National Anthem. Excluding the above mentioned, there are no explicit rules regarding the National Anthem. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case Shyam Narayan Chowksey V Union Of India passed an interim order giving certain directions to be followed while singing National Anthem.
The order was passed in pursuance to the special leave petition from the order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court regarding the depiction of National Anthem in Karan Johar’s feature film Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. Commercial exploitation and dramatization of National Anthem is prohibited under the order. It further directs the National Anthem to be played in cinema halls before featuring the movie along with the display of National Flag on the screen. It is expected that all the people in the theatre should stand and pay respect to the National Anthem. This directive by the Supreme Court has faced many criticisms. It is the opinion of the author that this initiation by the apex court is laudable. As it is very necessary that there should be certain rules that requires to be followed for such important national symbols that depicts our constitutional patriotism. But, the aberration here is that by making National Anthem to be played in a cinema hall is indirectly causing disrespect to the National Anthem. Cinema halls are places of entertainment, people visit them for enjoyment. Playing National Anthem in cinema hall belittles the status of the National Anthem rather than enhancing its dignity. Respect to National Anthem must be spontaneous and not be coercive in nature.
Besides this the judgement serves good as it prevents the commercialization of the National Anthem. It also further set rules to prohibit the dramatization and prevents the playing of abridged version of the National Anthem. These rules are necessary so as to keep intact the dignity of our National Anthem. Many critics of this judgement have failed to notice the important message to be inferred from the judgement. It brings forward the need to set rules regarding the National Anthem to prevent its violation. Parliament has to take forward this imperative and set out what constitutes disrespect to the National Anthem and rules to be followed in this regard.
BY JAYAPRADA JAYAKUMAR, 4TH YEAR, B.A LL.B(Hons), SCHOOL OF LAW, SATRA UNIVERSITY