Back in the year 2003, the petitioner Mr Shyam Narayan Chouksey, a social activist from Madhya Pradesh went to see a movie in a cinema hall in which in the middle of the movie national anthem was played, so he stood up as a mark of respect as well as a fundamental duty. His act was criticized by other people present in the cinema hall. He was deeply disappointed by seeing people carelessness towards the fundamental duty of paying due respect to our national anthem. Following this incident, Chouksey filed a petition in MP High Court against a movie producer Karan Johar accusing him of disrespecting/insulting the National Anthem in his movie Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham by contending that the scene in the film showed national anthem in poor light and also for “commercial use of National Anthem” in his movie.
The order was passed in his favour, and the High Court banned the screening of the film across India, but later the ban was revoked. Chouksey then moved to Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution stating that by which means and what constitutes respect and disrespect to the national anthem, national flag or any national symbols is still not clear to the public at large.
QUESTION OF LAW:
- What constitutes abuse or disrespect to National Anthem?
- Whether or not it is mandatory to stand while the national anthem is being played?
- Whether or not use of national anthem for any commercial purpose is allowed?
The case came before a two-judge bench headed by CJI Dipak Mishra along with Justice Amitava Rao. After hearing the learned counsel of parties, on 30th November 2016, taking note of the assertions made in the petition, this Court had passed an interim order1, which included-
- There shall be no commercial exploitation of the national anthem or gain any financial advantage from it.
- There shall be no dramatization of the national anthem.
- National Anthem or National Flag shall not be printed or displayed in any manner which causes disrespect in any way.
- All cinema halls should play the national anthem before screening of any movie. And while the national anthem is being played/ sung, everyone must stand up.
- All the doors ought to be closed while the National anthem is played to ensure no disturbance.
- While performing the national anthem on-screen only the national flag is to be there on the screen.
- No abridged version of the national anthem shall be played.
After hearing all the learned counsels and amicus curiae, the Court relied upon the judgement of Union of India v. Naveen Jindal (2004) 2 SCC 510, held that National Anthem and National Flag are the secular symbol of the nationhood and cannot be disrespected at any sort. Every citizen is obliged to pay respect to it. The Court further held that citizens are bound to show respect to National Anthem. The SC directed Central Government to make a necessary stand regarding policies towards the issue. Along with that directory order of playing national anthem in the cinema hall and mandatory for a citizen to stand while it’s been played or sung was passed, giving exemptions to a disabled person.
[Referring to Article 51A(a) of Constitution along with section 2 and 3 of The Disabled Persons (Claims) Supplements Act].