The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that all cinema halls across the country must start playing the national anthem before every movie screening. The bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy also ordered that this be accompanied by the national flag on the screen, and that members of the public should stand for the anthem. The new directive will be in affect in a week, reported NDTV.

The order added that abridged versions of the national anthem should not be played, and that it should not be commercially exploited or dramatised. “Citizens must respect the national anthem and flag,” NDTV quoted the bench as saying. It added that the anthem should “not be printed on undesirable objects or be displayed in such a manner and at such places which may be disgraceful to its status and may tantamount to disrespect”.

The court was responding to a plea seeking directions and protocol on playing the anthem in movie halls before a film is screened.The petition was filed by one Shyam Narayan Chouski, who runs a non-governmental organisation in Bhopal. On October 31, the court had asked the Centre to specify what would constitute disrespect to the anthem and its abuse.

The government will circulate the court order to chief secretaries of all states and will also publish it on electronic and print media.