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Wednesday, 25 October 2017 04:30
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Looks like SC is reconsidering its ruling on the national anthem – no longer have to wear patriotism on your sleeve

The Supreme Court revisiting its own judgments, and within such a short time, is not something you look forward to, but if it corrects a wrong, it is welcome. So, after bringing the restaurant/bar business to a halt with its ruling on serving liquor, the SC modified this by allowing state governments to denotify those parts of national highways that were inside city limits. With last November’s order that cinema halls had to play the national anthem, it followed, everyone had to stand up when it played. Anyone who opposed it, naturally enough, was labelled unpatriotic.

It is, of course, ironic that while the Chief Justice was part of the two-judge bench that delivered the original order, he is now part of a three-judge bench that is reviewing it. In an interim order—the next hearing has been posted for January 9, 2018—the apex court has left it to the Union government to take a call on mandatory anthem playing, even as it has said that the choice not to stand for the anthem in cinema halls is that of the cinema-goer. Justice DY Chandrachud, part of the current bench, put it very well when, while in court, he asked whether we were supposed to “wear our patriotism on our sleeves”. He observed that people go to cinema for entertainment. If they were to be banned from wearing certain clothes to halls because it could be tantamount to insulting the anthem, he asks rhetorically, where would such moral policing stop? In a country where moral policing has been taken to all manner of extremes, should the apex court finally strike down its original ruling, this will be a welcome relief in at least one area.

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