In India, going to the movies could lead to your arrest if you fail to follow a new ruling by the Supreme Court. India’s highest court ruled last month that cinemas across the country must play the national anthem before the movie and that all moviegoers must stand during the anthem. The decision has sparked a national conversation about what it means to be patriotic in India and the rights of a free society.

The ruling read in part, “citizens of the country must realise that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to [the] national anthem which is the symbol of the constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality. It does not allow any different notion of the perception of individual rights. The idea is constitutionally impermissible.”

The court order has received mixed reactions. Some believe the ruling is an assault on civil liberties, while others, mostly supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, welcome the mandate.

Dozens of people have been arrested for not complying with the ruling. Although the court didn’t specify punishment for breaking the law, people have been charged under the Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act of 1971, which carries a prison sentence of up to three years if found guilty. It’s not just the police who are holding people accountable. Ordinary citizens are taking part in law enforcement. There have reportedly been a number of attacks on moviegoers who failed to stand during the national anthem. We discuss the court order, its impact on the country and what it means to be patriotic in today’s India.

In this episode of The Stream, we speak to:

Tarun Vijay @Tarunvijay
Member, BJP National

Sandip Roy @sandipr
Editor, The Huffington Post

Gaurav Arya @majorgauravarya
Defense Analyst

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