The Supreme Court on January 9, 2018 reversed its earlier order and held that playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of films is no longer mandatory and left it to a government panel to frame guidelines on this sensitive matter. The apex court said that playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of movies would now be optional and in that case the audience will have to stand as a show of respect. The direction came a day after the Centre made a plea to the apex court to modify its November 30, 2016 order that made it mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem before screening of a film during which the audience was also required to stand. The order had sparked a nationwide debate. The top court, while disposing of the petitions pending before it, made it clear that the exemption granted earlier to disabled persons from standing in cinema halls when national anthem was being played, shall remain in force till the committee takes a decision. The bench accepted the Centre’s affidavit which said the 12-member panel has been set up to suggest changes in the 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.