Around 20 people have been arrested after being accused of failing to stand for the national anthem in cinemas, two weeks after the Supreme Court made it compulsory.
The Supreme Court ruled on November 30 that cinemas should play the national anthem before every screening and that the audience should stand, drawing angry accusations of an assault on civil liberties.
12 people were arrested on Monday at an international film festival in Kerala for failing to observe the order, the police said. They said the film-goers, who have not been identified, had refused to stand after being asked to do so by organisers and police. “They were formally arrested and later released on bail,” said Sparjan Kumar, police chief of the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram.
Mr Kumar said six of the 12 had been assaulted after refusing to stand, but that no charges would be brought against the attackers. “We are yet to receive a complaint about the assault. There is no investigation into (that) incident,” he told news agency AFP. Mr Kumar said the 12 cinema-goers arrested in his state had been charged with various related offences, including contempt of court.
Before that, on Sunday, eight people were arrested at a cinema in Chennai after being assaulted by a group of 20 men during the interval for allegedly refusing to stand. They were reportedly charged under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act and face up to three years in jail if found guilty.
The Supreme Court did not specify a penalty for failure to stand, or indicate who was to take charge of monitoring rule-breaking and assigning punishment.