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Should an Indian's Patriotism be Judged Based on His/Her Adherence to a Mandated Practice During a Film's Screening?

ET Cases, 10 Pages
AUTHOR(S) : Syed Abdul Samad and Dr. Nagendra V. Chowdary

Case Preview

Should an Indian's Patriotism be Judged Based on His/Her Adherence to a Mandated Practice During a Film's Screening?

On November 30th 2016, a simple and fun act of watching a movie in the theatres had got a touch of patriotism. The Supreme Court of India had asked cinemas across the country to mandatorily play the Indian National Anthem before a film is screened and the national flag be displayed on the screen when the anthem is played. It ordered that the moviegoers must stand up and all doors of cinema halls be closed to stop people from moving around. It also banned dramatizing, abridging, commercializing the 52-second-long song or printing it on undesirable objects. It further directed the Government to give wide publicity to its order. However, the court clarified that when the National Anthem is sung or played in the storyline of a feature film or as part of the newsreel or documentary, the audience need not stand.

This order came in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey (Chouksey), a former engineer seeking to stop the National Anthem being routinely ‘dishonoured’. Back in 2001, Chouksey was booed and hooted at when he stood up while the National Anthem was played as a part of the film Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. He had then moved the Madhya Pradesh High Court which led to the ban of the movie until the National Anthem part was deleted. Chouksey did not stop there and he started collecting newspaper clippings, YouTube videos and recorded instances of people disrespecting the national flag and National Anthem. In September 2016, he filed a PIL with Supreme Court and argued that under Article 51(A) of the Constitution, it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to show respect to the National Flag and the National Anthem, and sought guidelines for playing it (Exhibit I). The petition cited instances such as –

• Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi not standing up for the National Anthem during the flag hoisting on Republic Day in 2002

• In 2015, the National Anthem was not played for its full duration of 52 seconds at Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha’s oath taking ceremony

• A district collector in Madhya Pradesh serving food on paper plates that had the National Anthem and the national flag imprinted on them....

After the Supreme Court’s order regarding the National Anthem, First Post observed that, “There are several theories relating the seemingly unrelated subjects of the
National anthem — a matter of reverence — and cinema — a media form usually directed at recreation. According to The Guardian, the practice to play the National Anthem in cinema halls in India was first introduced after the 1962 India-China war.................

Discussion Questions

I. What do you think is the reason behind playing National Anthem before playing a movie in a theatre? Is it an appropriate place to play the National Anthem?

II. Why do you think should one stand up when the National Anthem is played or recited or sung?

III. Is an Indian legally required to stand during the Indian National Anthem?



Exhibit I: What Chouksey’s PIL Wanted from the Supreme Court

Exhibit II: Twitter Messages on Supreme Court’s Order About National Anthem

Exhibit III: Instances of Violence Relating to National Anthem in Cinema Halls

Teaching Note Preview

Should an Indian's Patriotism be Judged Based on His/Her Adherence to a Mandated Practice During a Film's Screening?


The purpose of this Teaching Plan is neither to outline the answers to Case Debate’s discussion questions nor to suggest an ideal way of conducting an effective debate basis the given topic. It is more to share the authors’ perspectives, basis their classroom orchestration of this Case Debate, on possible ways of orchestrating this Case Debate. 

Purpose of the Case Debate

Purpose of this Case Debate, which is a prelude to the Case Method of Teaching, is to inculcate the following skills [Exhibit (TP)-I] that would amply benefit the participants during their careers.....

As this Case Debate is based on a very generic topic, the purpose is not to dwell into only the research-based inputs but more to prepare the students/participants for the process of case discussion – except that while the case discussion would be based on the case facts, the Case Debate encourages the students/participants to present their ideas with no rigorous business dilemma..............



Exhibit (TP)-II: Timeline of Playing Indian National Anthem in Movie Theatres and the Supreme Courts Orders

Exhibit (TP)-III: Classroom Orchestration Plan – Should an Indian’s Patriotism be Judged Based on His/Her Adherence to a Mandated Practice During a Film’s Screening?

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Product code: OB-9-0073, OB-9-0073A


This Case Debate can help understand the reasons and consequences behind the Supreme Court's mandate of playing the Indian National Anthem before the screening of a feature film in theatres. On November 30th 2016, India's Supreme Court had ordered all the cinema halls to play the National Anthem before the screening of the movies and all those present should stand as a mark of respect for the anthem and the country. The bench of judges felt that people should show respect to the National Anthem and expected that the practice would inculcate patriotism in Indians. The court's order raised a debate among the people and it also became the butt of jokes on social media. It also gave rise to self-appointed vigilant groups that took to violence against people who did not/could not stand up during the National Anthem. Why should the National Anthem be played before the movie is screened in theatre? Is it an appropriate place for National Anthem? Is it forced nationalism? Would it increase the feeling of patriotism in the Indians or would it lessen the value of National Anthem? Why should one stand while a National Anthem is being played? Does "not standing" while National Anthem is played make a person less patriotic or anti-national and "standing" prove one's patriotism? Why is one expected to wear his/her heart out on the sleeve in terms of nationalism/patriotism?

This Case Debate centers around: (a) Understanding the reasons behind Supreme Court’s order to play National Anthem before the screening of films in theatres and required moviegoers to stand (b) What does the Indian constitution or Law say about this mandate? (c) Does this mandate prove one’s patriotism or is it forced patriotism?

Purpose of this Case Debate, which is a prelude to the Case Method of Teaching, is to inculcate the following skills that would amply benefit the participants during their careers:

(a) Ideation
(b) Discussion and Debate
(c) Empathy
(d) Appreciation

Case Debate Positioning

This Case Debate can be used for either of the following:

  • MBA Programs – Organizational Behavior – To debate on importance of civic behavior and the need to promote patriotism amongst the Indians and debate on the need for a Supreme Court mandate or government’s intervention to promote patriotism amongst Indians
  • Undergraduate Programs/BBA Programs – To sensitize the participants about the importance of patriotism and civic behavior in the Indians and whether patriotism should be promoted through a court’s mandate

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