New Delhi: Persons with disabilities who wish to see a movie in a cinema hall will be exempt from the rule requiring all members of the audience to stand while the national anthem is played at the start of each screening but they will be required to show respect for ‘Jana Gana Mana’ in a manner that that Central government will soon prescribe for them.
Responding to a suggestion from its amicus curiae, the Supreme Court on December 9 modified its earlier order on the national anthem to exempt persons with physical disabilities from standing. It also clarified that the doors of the theatres need not be bolted when the national anthem is played.
On November 30, the Supreme Court had issued an order for the national anthem to be played before the screening of movies in cinema halls across the nation in a bid to “instil committed patriotism and nationalism”.
The modified order was passed by a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy, which agreed to hear the plea seeking a recall of its original order on the anthem.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed the apex court that the Centre would issue guidelines within ten days from yesterday on how persons with physical disabilities should show respect to the national anthem.
The court, however, said that such persons must show “some such gesture” as a mark of respect.
The bench said:
“As the guidelines are going to be issued, we clarify, if a physically challenged person or physically handicapped person goes to the cinema hall to watch a film, he need not stand up, if he is incapable
“As the guidelines are going to be issued, we clarify, if a physically challenged person or physically handicapped person goes to the cinema hall to watch a film, he need not stand up, if he is incapable to stand, but must show such conduct which is commensurate with respect for the National Anthem…
Another aspect needs to be cleared. When we said that the doors shall be closed, we did not mean that the doors shall be bolted as mentioned in the case of Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Delhi vs. Uphaar Tragedy Victims Association and Ors.
…but only to regulate the ingress and egress during the period while the National Anthem is played.”
The matter will next be heard on February 14, 2017.
The Supreme Court’s clarification came after the organiser of an international film festival in Kerala moved the apex court seeking an exemption from the November 30 order on the grounds that it would inconvenience the 1,500 foreign guests who would have to stand each time the feastival’s 40 films were screened.
The court’s original order came on a PIL filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking directions that the national anthem be played in cinema halls across the country before the start of a film, and proper norms and protocols be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.