The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought response from the central government on a PIL seeking to ascertain the feasibility of singing the national anthem and the national song in schools and public offices.
The notice has also been issued to the Law Commission of India. Petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay, who is also spokesman of the Bharatiya Janata Party's Delhi unit, has urged the government to ascertain the feasibility of singing/playing of the national anthem and the national song in Parliament/assembly, public offices and courts on every working day.
The BJP leader has sought framing of a national policy to promote and propagate the national anthem, the national song and the national flag in the spirit of the Constitution's Article 51A, which spells out 'Fundamental Duties'.
Its first clause says that "It shall be the duty of every citizen of India" (a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem".
Even as a bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar sought the government's response, it modified its earlier November 30, 2016, order to exempt a certain category of physically disabled people from standing up when the national anthem is played in cinema halls as per its directions.
The court directed that the "persons who are wheelchair users, those with autism, persons suffering from cerebral palsy, multiple disabilities, Parkinsons, multiple sclerosis, leprosy cured, muscular dystrophy and deaf and blind be treated not to be within the ambit of the orders passed by this Court".
The court had then ordered that the national anthem would be played in cinema halls across the country before the start of a movie. This, it said, would instil a feeling of "constitutional patriotism" and a sense of "committed patriotism and nationalism".
It also had said that when the national anthem is sung or played, it is imperative on t he part of everyone present to show due respect and honour to it by standing up.
The court also allowed petitioner Shyam Narayan Chouksey to amend his petition to include that singing of the national anthem would be accorded the same respect as that of the national flag.
The court was told that any disrespect to the national flag and the constitution attracts punishment but same is not the case with natural anthem.
At this, the bench observed that "as of today, disrespect to the national anthem is not an offence as there is no fundamental duty to do so" as was the case in respect of national flag and the constitution under Article 51A.