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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Student who remained seated during national anthem faces life imprisonment......

A 25-year-old philosophy student from Trivandrum (name withheld), was in the news recently after he was slapped with sedition charges for allegedly remaining seated and hooting when the national anthem was played at a theatre in Trivandrum. The youngster has also been charged under section 66A of India's Information Technology Act for allegedly publishing abusive social media posts about Independence Day on August 15. 

According to reports, the Kerala high court has denied bail to the man for the second time and he will face life imprisonment, if the charges against him are proved. 

One must stand up! 

The Kerala incident has created quite a stir in the state and the news has become a heated topic of discussion among youngsters on social networking sites. 

Parvathi Menon, an upcoming actor, says, "I will stand up when the national anthem is being played at an event. From school days we are taught to do so and I believe that brings out the patriotic spirit in me." 

Actor Unni Mukundan says, "We live in a liberal country, so if you can't give back respect, at least one should not show disrespect. India is achieving great heights. Given a choice to move out of India too, I would prefer to stay back because of the freedom you enjoy in this country. So, ultimately I would say that no disrespect against your country should be tolerated." 

Actress Gauthami Nair says, "I am patriotic at heart and I make it a point to stand up whenever I hear the national anthem. If the anthem is played while I am at home, I do make it a point to stand up. If one cannot stand up when the anthem is on, at least one should maintain silence." 

Sethu Raj Kadaikal, a law student from Kochi, says, "Every Indian should respect the national anthem and the national flag. When VIPs visit our country and the national anthem is played, they too respect it and that's the way it should be." 

Why theatres stopped playing the National anthem in 1975 

"Till 1975, the national anthem used to be played in theatres post the film, but later there was an order to stop the playing of the anthem post the film due to the disrespect shown by the audience," says Adv A Jayashankar. 

But now once again theatres have been encouraged to play the National Anthem. Sabu Cherian, the chairman of the Kerala State Film Development Corporation, says the Censor Board has granted censor certificate to the government theatres in Kerala to play National Anthem in theatres. "All government theatres in Kerala should play the National Anthem before the movie is screened," he says. 

What the law says 

According to The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Indian National Anthem or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both. 

Other controversies surrounding the National Anthem that have made headlines 

In 2008, Union minister Shashi Tharoor's exhortation to sing the National Anthem the American way, by placing the right hand on the left side of the chest had created a flutter across the country. A case was registered against Tharoor under section 3 of Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, 1977, enacted to prohibit desecration or insult to the country's national anthem. 

But the ruling came out in favour of the politician. The court pointed out that the Act doesn't specify that members of the audience should stand in attention when the anthem is sung but that it is only a central government circular that says so. 

In 1986, a controversy arose when three school children were expelled from a school in Kerala because they refused to sing the national anthem. The complaint reached the Supreme Court which ruled that there is no provision in the law which obliges anyone to sing the national anthem and that not singing the anthem doesn't amount to showing disrespect. 

Preity's 'patriotism' irks twitterati 

In other recent news, Bollywood actress Preity Zinta too threw a man out of a theatre when he refused to stand up while the National Anthem was being played. Her tweet went, "#bangbang be4 Bang Bang! Had2 throw a guy out of the theatre as he refused 2stand up4 our National Anthem! Can u believe it? Now movie time." 

She received both bouquets and brickbats for her action. The actress had to remove her tweet as twitterati were irked by her post.