A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra left it to the discretion of cinema hall owners to take a call. The bench made it clear that the playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of movies optional, modifying its earlier order.
However, the court clarified that if the anthem is played, people in the hall are bound to show respect by standing up and that the exception granted to disabled people from standing during the anthem will remain in force.
The court said that the committee should comprehensively look into all aspects.
"People do not need to stand up at a cinema hall to be perceived as patriotic", the court said, adding that it "cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for national anthem, then he is less patriotic".
The bench accepted the Centre's affidavit which said the 12-member panel has been set up to suggest changes in the 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. Until the committee submits its recommendations, a process that is likely to take six months, it was urged that the apex court may consider restoring the position as it stood before the order was passed on 30 November 2016.
During the hearing, the bench accepted the submissions of the Attorney General that petitioners before the court could make representations before the committee.
The apex court's decision comes a day after the government said a final call can be taken on the issue once a ministerial panel comes up with its guidelines on this. "My petition was to make mandatory singing of national anthem in all educational institutions too", he said. It is a tool for integration of the entire country.
Chouksey, however, said it was unfortunate that only cinema halls figure in media in context of the national anthem.
According to him, most ministries in the government would be represented in this committee. He 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.