People do not need to stand up in cinema halls to prove their patriotism and "cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves", the Supreme Court said on Monday, asking the Centre to consider amending the rules to regulate the playing of the National Anthem before a film.
The apex court also observed that it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the National Anthem, then he is "less patriotic".
Observing that the society did not need "moral policing", a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the next time, "the government will want people to stop wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas saying this would disrespect the National Anthem."
It said it will not allow the government to "shoot from its shoulder" and asked it to take a call either way on the issue of regulating the playing of the anthem before a film.
The bench also indicated that it may modify its order of 30 November, 2016, by which the playing of the anthem was made mandatory in the movie halls before the screening of a film, and may replace the word "shall" with "may".
"People go to cinema halls for undiluted entertainment. Society needs entertainment. We cannot allow you (Centre) to shoot from our shoulders. People do not need to stand up in cinema halls to prove their patriotism," the bench, also comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud, said.
"Desireability is one thing but making it mandatory is another. Citizens cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves and courts cannot inculcate patriotism among people through its order," the bench said.