India’s Supreme Court has ruled that the playing of the national anthem is not compulsory before the screening of films in the country's movie theaters.
The Supreme Court judges said that playing the anthem is optional, but if it is played, citizens are required to show respect.
The recent move reverses a court decision in 2016, when lawmakers had sought to unify the playing of the national anthem nationwide.
However, during that time, the ruling sparked controversy and occasional violent outbreaks between cinemagoers who considered others not to be standing up or showing due respect. A disabled man in a wheelchair was one of the victims.
The 2016 ruling was challenged by a Kerala cinema club as well as the national government.
The recent decision also included a request by the court for the government to set up a commission to make further recommendations, including whether the anthem is necessary at all.