CPI-ML New Democracy, Democratic Rights

Bending with the wind

The Supreme Court verdict on compulsory playing of national anthem at the start of every show of a film in a theatre is a retrograde decision. This Supreme Court verdict over-rules the 1986 decision of the apex Court that nobody should be forced to sing the national anthem. Such decisions have also been given by top courts in a number of countries. However, this decision is in sync with the RSS-BJP attempt to whip up ultra-nationalist hysteria.

Supreme Court has obviously laid down a wrong rule. Article 53-A(a) is part of the Directive Principles dealing with the duty of every citizen and is non-justiciable i.e. cannot be enforced by a Court of law though this is not the only Article of the Directive Principles which the apex Court is setting out to enforce. Further, Article 53-A(a) deals with the duty of every citizen to give due honour to national symbols like national flag and national anthem i.e. due respect be accorded to them and not their forcible observance. The distinction is vital and important. Compulsory playing of national anthem in the places of entertainment cannot foster love for the country.

The Supreme Court verdict is alarming as the RSS-BJP ruling dispensation is trying to unleash severe repression on the people in the name of nationalism. This verdict will only embolden these forces bent on dividing society. It is sad that the Supreme Court has not learnt from the past when it had given judgements to suit the convenience of the powers that be or to placate the hysteria built by powerful sections. One cannot forget the Supreme Court judgement during Emergency that citizens cannot approach Courts for enforcement of fundamental rights. One also remembers the Hindutva judgement where, despite the express bar in the law, asking for vote in the name of religion was allowed by holding that Hindutva is a way of life and does not amount to appeal to religious sentiments.

The Supreme Court verdict will definitely be (mis)used by the RSS fronts to enforce this ‘respect’ and formation of volunteer force to enforce the same would be order of the day. Just like Gaurakshak Dals, such vahinis will terrorize the people with the connivance of police. They would select their targets in the name of not showing proper respect to the national anthem. This verdict may be the beginning of a turn for the worse, and at the least it is bending with the wind on part of the apex Court which does not augur well for the people who look to higher judiciary for safeguarding their constitutional rights from the onslaught of the fascist forces who incidentally do it in the garb of nationalism.

This judgement shows the growing intolerance among different institutions of the state. It also demonstrates a design to enforce certain patterns of behavoiur among the people and demand conformity to set patterns. Supreme Court verdict is definitely not in furtherance of the main objectives laid down in the Constitution. It must be reviewed and revised.