This past week the Apex court of India gave its judgement on a PIL filed by a retired engineer from Bhopal, Shyam Narayan Chouksey regarding the issue of national anthems being played in the theatres to which a bench led by Justice Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy ordered that “all the cinema halls in India shall play the national anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the national anthem” as a part of their “sacred obligation”. Disregarding “any different notion or the perception of individual rights”, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy added that the movie screen shall have the image of the national flag when the anthem is being played and that doors of the halls will remain shut during the anthem so that no disturbance is caused.
“The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag. That apart, it would instil the feeling within one, a sense committed patriotism and nationalism,”
Further adding, "“a time has come, the citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to National Anthem, which is the symbol of the constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality.”
Even though there is no punishment and penalty for not following the same but the top court expects it to be followed "in letter and spirit".
The judgement entails that no commercial use or abridged version of the national anthem shall be permissable as the anthem is to be respected and it is a sacred obligation.
Three children in a school in Kerala during the national anthem everyday in the morning stood up but did not sing as it was not in compliance with their faith. An MLA filed a case and subsequently they were thrown out of school. They in turn finally filed a Writ Petition to which In 1986 a bench of two Supreme court judges Just. Chenappa Reddy and Just. MM Dutt in the case Bijoe Emmanuel & Ors vs State Of Kerala & Ors, had ordered that the:
"The three child-appellants Bijoe, Binu Mol and Bindu Emmanuel, are the faithful of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They attend school. Daily, during the morning assembly, when the National Anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ is sung, they stand respectfully but they do not sing. They do not sing because, according to them, it is against the tenets of their religious faith — not the words or the thoughts of the Anthem but the singing of it.."
The court here upheld the Writ Petition on the basis of Article 25(1) and in simple words said that to respect the national anthem does not mean to actually sing along, the mere gesture of the children standing is enough and they put the fundamental right of religion before a fundamental duty.
-The Constitution at play:
Article 19(1)(a) gives us the freedom for free speech and expression whereas article 25 ensures the safety of our religion and the first provision itself gives the right to profess and propogate our religion irrespective of what it may be.
Now these articles have been part of the constitution in its original form when written by not only a party but a drafting committee on intellectuals with no regard of political affiliation or a particular ideology but a committee of people that knew what this country is and what it stands for, those who had seen the brunt of colonialism or oppression via the caste system. These members had been a minority in their own nation without rights in their own motherland even then the forefathers of our constitution did not find it neccessary to make 'respecting' the national anthem an obligation or a compulsion.
The man who has written the national anthem has also written a book called 'Nationalism' where he has in the whole book only spoken about how nationalism has destroyed the west made it mechanical, how to this machine has no soul has left. He has been stated saying that he seeks refuge in Humanity rather than nationalism.
Article 51(A) enjoins the duty on every citizen to "to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem." is a product of the 42nd amendment act. The act was brought in by a series of amendments by the Indira Gandhi Government in 1976 in the wake of the emergency and with a motive of power politics gave immense powers to the Parliament and was her attempt at keeping power by giving this false narrative of nationa pride just to save her own seat.
The point to be made here is that the idea of being forced to show your patriotism is a form of power politics rather than the Indian identity of tolerance, discussion and debate rather it is a arbitrary law that is not even enforcable by if looked at in the constitution as it is enshrined in Part IVA.
To end with India is a country which is more diverse than Europe today but is united. We are united as the forefathers realised that every sect, every language, and every part of this country is different and this nature of diversity and difference is to be respected and laws are to be made subsequently.
The idea to instill patriotism is not a flawed one but the method of coercion to instill this feeling is one that will not last.
I am an Indian, I love my country but do I need to prove that I am patriotic even in theatres?
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