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Indian cinemas are free to decide if they want to play the national anthem before film screenings, according to a revised ruling by the country’s Supreme Court.
In December 2016, the court had made it compulsory for cinemas to play the national anthem to foster “love and respect of the motherland.” But that order has now been modified following a petition filed by the government, which said that it had formed a committee to “consider wide-ranging issues relating to the National Anthem and to have extensive discussions.”
The committee is expected to frame guidelines on the issue within six months.
According to the Indian Express newspaper, India’s attorney general K K Venugopal told the court that “in my suggestion, the word ‘shall’ in the order could be changed to ‘may’, leaving it to cinemas to play or not to play” the national anthem.
The Multiplex Association of India president Deepak Asher told THR that following the new ruling, it is now up to multiplexes “to take a call whether they want to or don’t want to play the national anthem.”
Playing the national anthem in cinemas was first made mandatory in 1962 when India fought a war with China, but the practice was discontinued by the seventies. However, a couple of states, such as Maharashtra — of which film hub Mumbai is the capital — still enforced the rule.