Mandatory Playing Of National Anthem: SC Cannot Lead By Example

Following the Supreme Court’s order mandating the playing of the National Anthem before movie screening in theaters, a lawyer’s plea to modify the ruling to include court proceedings was dismissed by the same bench of justices.

How does that saying go? Ah, yes. “What goes around, comes around.”

Well, it looks like the ruling passed by the Supreme Court on Wednesday regarding the National Anthem being played before movie screenings has come back to bite the SC in the posterior.


Supreme Court on the National Anthem.


Delhi-based lawyer Ashwani Upadhyay, saying that he felt the Wednesday order was “great”, moved an application on Friday seeking to have the National Anthem played at the start of proceedings in courts across the country.

The same bench of justices – Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy – who passed the Wednesday ruling, refused to entertain Upadhyay’s plea, saying that the petitioner should file a proper application.

They sought Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s presence when Upadhyay mentioned his plea. The AG supported the court’s view, saying that there was no reason why an application should be filed now.

The bench went on to say that since “we have already passed our order… it cannot be overstretched.” They said there was no need to put adjectives onto the earlier order, and that the lawyer should show some restraint.

Now, what does this remind you of?

If you ask me, this situation seems awfully similar to that of a student who, after being told not to use his mobile phone in class, objects when the teacher answers his own phone. The teacher is a hypocrite, the student is audacious but not wrong in pointing out this hypocrisy, the teacher gets defensive and tells the student to watch his mouth.

Upadhyay now has the option to file an official petition, but judging by the apex court’s knee-jerk reaction, it doesn’t seem like it would do much good.

To be fair, I think if the National Anthem – which is officially 52 seconds long – was to be played before every court proceeding, it might become just another reason for fewer cases being cleared every day.

That said, if the SC truly believes its earlier order would help instill a sense of national identity amongst movie-goers, perhaps it should lead by example and show us just how deep its own constitutional patriotism goes.

Practice what you preach, eh?


Patriotism is voluntary.


Had this plea been made out of the blue, perhaps we would all have mocked it. But, given that this came right after the cinema hall mandate, it can be seen as a demand by the public – either show us you are willing to do what you ask us to do or eat your words.

And eat their words they should.

In 1970 Henrietta, New York, a high school art teacher Mrs. Susan Russo was dismissed by the school authorities for refusing to participate in her school’s daily flag salute ceremonies. Here’s a quote from the case that followed this dismissal (Russo v. Central School District No. 1):

“Patriotism that is forced is false patriotism, just as loyalty that is coerced is the very antithesis of loyalty.”

Food for thought!

If you found this interesting, you’d also like to read:

Mandatory National Anthem: SC Stop Gagging Us With Forced Patriotism


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here