Supreme Court: Theaters do not have to play Indian anthem

Indian moviegoers stand up as national anthem is played at a cinema before the screening of a movie in Allahabad, India, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. India's Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed a ruling that ordered the national anthem to be played before movie screenings while audiences stand, a ruling that sparked a spate of arrests and attacks on cinema-goers who refused to rise. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

NEW DELHI — India's Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed a ruling that ordered the national anthem to be played before movie screenings while audiences stand, a ruling that sparked a spate of arrests and attacks on cinema-goers who refused to rise.

The new decision, Indian news outlets reported, allows theaters to choose whether to play the national anthem.

The 2016 ruling, which the court had said was designed to instill patriotism, set off a wave of attacks in theaters, including one on a disabled man in a wheelchair.

The court had indicated it might reverse its ruling. During a hearing last year, a group of justices noted that "Citizens cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves and courts cannot inculcate patriotism among people through its order," the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The court has also ordered that a government commission be established to recommend further decisions on whether the anthem should be played in theaters.

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