India Supreme Court orders all movie theaters to play national anthem

India's Supreme Court has ruled that theaters must play the national anthem before every movie.

Story highlights

  • Supreme Court says Indians "duty bound" to show respect for national anthem
  • Some Indians have criticized recent trend toward aggressive displays of patriotism

(CNN)Movie theaters across India must play the national anthem before every film, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The anthem -- "Jana Gana Mana" -- will be accompanied by an image of the Indian flag.
    "All present in the (cinema) hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the national anthem," Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy wrote.
    The ruling is in response to a petition filed by Narayan Chouksey, a retired engineer in Bhopal, who asked the court to "specify what would be constituting disrespect and abuse of the national anthem."
    Attorneys for Chouksey argued that the anthem was being regularly insulted and called on the court to lay down norms to protect it.
    The court said the ruling must be implemented within 10 days.

    Law of the land

    While the national anthem is already played before movies by some theaters, and many Indians grew up listening to the song before most school and society events, it has never before been the law except in the western state of Maharashtra.
    "The citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to (the) national anthem," the justices said.
    Ministry of Home Affairs regulations already stipulate that Indians must stand to attention "whenever the anthem is sung or played."
    In the past there have been reports of people being thrown out of venues or attacked for not showing respect to the anthem.
    However, many Indians have also criticized a recent trend toward aggressive displays of patriotism amid a rise in jingoism on television news and in the press.
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    Pakistan ban

    It isn't the first time in recent months that national politics and the movies have intersected.
    In October, one of India's most famous movie directors announced he would no longer work with Pakistani talent.
    Bollywood director Karan Johar's move came after weeks of rising tensions between the two neighbors over clashes along their disputed border in Kashmir.