New Delhi : The national anthem must be played in all cinemas before movie screenings and all exits will be shut during that time, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. The court also stressed that everyone should rise for the anthem and the national flag has to be on the screen

“When the national anthem is played it is imperative for everyone to show honor and respect. It would instill a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism,” said the judges.

“Time has come that people must feel and show respect to the national anthem, the symbol of constitutional patriotism.”

While the anthem is on, all theater exits will be closed – a rule that instantly raised questions about emergencies. Lawyers say the movement of people in and out of the hall in the middle of the anthem is seen as disrespect.

Acting on a petition alleging misuse of the anthem in TV shows or movies, the court also ruled that it should not be commercially exploited, dramatized or printed on objectionable material.

The government promised to have the system in place in 10 days.

The petition was filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey, who runs an NGO in Bhopal.

Cinema halls used to play the national anthem after the movie in the 1960s, but people often walked out in the middle. The practice faded away over the years, as multiplexes dramatically transformed movie-watching.

In 2003, the western state of Maharashtra made it compulsory for cinemas in the state to play the anthem, but last year, the Madras High Court ruled against such a move in Tamil Nadu state, saying that doing so might create disorder and confusion.


The judgement has caused a stir on Indian social media, with opinion on the judgement sharply divided.

Some people were of the opinion that the judgement was unnecessary while others said there was nothing wrong with it. Many, though, found humour in the situation.

The hashtag #NationalAnthem was one of the top trends on Twitter India on Wednesday afternoon.