On 30 November 2016, the Supreme Court had passed an order directing that all the cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all persons present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem. Now, by an order dated 9 December 2016, the Supreme Court has modified the above order by observing that 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. This order has been issued by the same two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy, in the case of Shyam Narayan Chouksey [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 855/2016].
With regard to the above modified directions, the Supreme Court said that when it says physically challenged or physically handicapped persons, it means persons with disability as defined under Sections 2(i) and 2(t) of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
The Supreme Court also clarified that in its earlier order of 30 November, when it said that the doors of the cinema halls shall be closed while playing the National Anthem, it 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., (2011) 14 SCC 481, but only to regulate the ingress and egress during the period while the National Anthem is played.
It is noteworthy that after the above 30 November order, several persons had criticized the order mandating National Anthem in cinema halls, including on the grounds mentioned above, for which the above order has now been clarified.
In fact, in its above modification order, the Supreme Court has even said that as far as the recall of the order (dated 30 November) is concerned, the same has to be heard on merits when the matter is finally debated upon. So, the court has left the door open to recall or cancel the above order dated 30 November at the time of final hearing of the case. The case will next be heard on 14 February 2017.
Read full order of the court: