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Should the Supreme Court waste its precious time on issues like the national anthem or national flag?
It was the Supreme Court of India which had ruled on November 30, 2016 that playing the national anthem with display of the national flag on the screen was mandatory in cinema halls prior to screening movies. The apex court had even directed that the audience have to stand up when the national anthem is being played.

Interestingly, the 2016 ruling had come from a double bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy.

And now, a three-judge bench headed by the same Justice Dipak Misra, who is now the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and comprising of Justices YV Chandrachud and AM Khanwilkar has questioned the earlier SC order by asking, 'why do people have to wear their patriotism on their sleeve?'

I think the CJI should answer this question as he had ruled in the November 30, 2016 order that, 'It is the duty of every citizen to abide by the ideals ingrained in the Constitution or as such show respect to the National Anthem and the national flag'.

On Monday, in the interim order, the three-judge bench of the apex court suggested changing 'shall' to 'may' in the 2016 order and also asking the Central government to take a call on regulating the playing of national anthem in movie halls or other public places. The next date of hearing of the matter has been fixed for January 9, 2018.

But the point here is, if the SC thinks that the government should decided the matter, why it didn't scrap its 2016 order? Replacing 'shall' to 'may' is a verbal suggestion and can't substitute a written order which means that the 2016 order is still in force until the government brings in a law to regulate the playing of the national anthem at public places.

Notably, since its inception in 1950, the Supreme Court of India has seen a meteoric rise of 88 per cent in the number of pending cases. As per latest available data, while the top court had 690 pending cases in 1950, till September 2016, the number had reached a whopping 60,938. Courts need to dispose off cases as soon as possible to give justice to the people. But surprisingly the courts especially the apex court still seem to find time for meddling with issues which can be easily addressed by either existing laws or purely lie in the domain of the Union government. There were Constitutional provisions or existing laws before November 30, 2016 regarding the national anthem and national flag like the Flag Code.

I wish the courts wouldn't waste their precious time on useless matters. The courts should intervene only if any law or custom violates one's fundamental rights or somebody intentionally/unintentional becomes victim of such law/social custom(s).

During the 2016 verdict and now after the recent ruling, there are two groups of people who are vociferously debating. While one side says that one must stand up for the national anthem to display and prove patriotism, the other side says that one need not do so to prove his or her patriotism.

Patriotism is a sense that comes from within. A public display doesn't make one patriot and neither does refusing to sing the national anthem make someone a traitor or anti-national.

But at the same time, we must show basic courtesy. Good social behaviour is the key for achieving peaceful integration of diverse people. No doubt, the national anthem should be respected, but then, it shouldn't be enforced upon someone and made the ultimate benchmark of nationalism. Forced patriotism never has or never will work.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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