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Friday, December 16, 2016

Standing up during National Anthem - legal implications.

Standing up during National Anthem - legal implications ...

MADHAVAN went to theater just for a leisure. He was a bit tired too and wanted to relax. When the show was about to start, they played National Anthem with tri colour flag in the backdrop. He did not bother to stand, it was not to insult the National Anthem, but he was so tired and was not in such a mood to think that he ought to have stand up and otherwise, it would land him up in trouble. He realised the trouble, when booked by the Police and charged offences under section 188 of IPC and section 3 of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971. He never, ever met with any police cases, and it was his first case; he decided then and there- not to watch movies further in theaters.

The section 3 of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971 does not mandates that all shall stand during National Anthem. It only penalise if any one voluntarily disturbs playing or attending of National Anthem. But recently, 20 persons were arrested in not standing up during the play of National Anthem. Pursuant to the direction from Supreme Court on 30.11.2016 in a Public Interest Litigation, seven directions were issued to be complied while singing National Anthem. The directions include, the audience should mandatorily stand while the playing of National Anthem in cinema theaters, with national flag in the backdrop. 


1. There shall be no commercial exploitation to give financial advantage or any kind of benefit. To elaborate, the National Anthem should not be utilized by which the person involved with it either directly or indirectly shall have any commercial benefit or any other benefit. 

2. There shall not be dramatization of the National Anthem and it should not be included as a part of any variety show. It is because when the National Anthem is sung or played it is imperative on the part of every one present to show due respect and honour. To think of a dramatized exhibition of the National Anthem is absolutely inconceivable. 

3. National Anthem or a part of it shall not be printed on any object and also never be displayed in such a manner at such places which may be disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect. It is because when the National Anthem is sung, the concept of protocol associated with it has its inherent roots in National identity, National integrity and Constitutional Patriotism. 

4. 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.

5.  Prior to the National Anthem is played or sung in the cinema hall on the screen, the entry and exit doors shall remain closed so that no one can create any kind of disturbance which will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem. After the National Anthem is played or sung, the doors can be opened. 

6. When the National Anthem shall be played in the Cinema Halls, it shall be with the National Flag on the screen. 

7. The abridge version of the National Anthem made by any one for whatever reason shall not be played or displayed.


Now the question faced by the law enforcing authorities, is about the sections to impose while arresting such persons. The section 3 of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971 says, whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Indian National Anthem or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine or with both. 

But none in the recent incidents, none obstructed the singing of National Anthem or prevents it. Nor they caused any disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing. Even then, arrest of 20 persons were reported in Kerala. 

Then the remedy for the police is to impose the section 188 of Indian Penal Code, which says, about the disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant. The section is particular that, such disobedience causes to tender to cause obstruction, annoyance or injury, or risk of obstruction, annoyance of injury to any persons lawfully employed.. But this section cannot be charged unless a written complaint by a public servant who is concerned for the contempt of his lawful order. In 2010, C Muniyappan V. State of Tamil Nadu, the Supreme court of India held that Section 195(a)(i) of Code of Criminal Procedure bars the court from taking cognizance of offence under section 188 of IPC, if there is not a written complaint by a public servant. 

HERE THE QUESTION is, if any one does not stand in the cinema theater while playing National Anthem, is there any public servant to give a written complaint; if not so, how the police will charge the case under section 188 of IPC ?

THE SECOND QUESTION is, if a person simply sit in the theater without standing up and not causing any disturbance or not preventing anyone from singing, can an offence under section 3 of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971 be charged ?

These all are questions to be mooted again and again.
But one thing we must bear in mind, during 1960s, singing of National Anthem was mandatory in cinema theaters and the common run obeyed it without any objection.  In the efflux of time, the mindset of generation has been changed, they may not like a forceful impose to express their honour to the National Anthem, but they may honour it in their own way and it is a larger question to be debated indeed.

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