SC modifies National Anthem order, exempts differently abled
- The Supreme Court modified its November 30 order to exempt physically challenged or physically handicapped persons from standing up in cinema halls when the national anthem is played before film screenings.
- The Supreme Court had ordered cinema halls to mandatorily play the anthem and directed all those present there to stand up to show respect.
- The court said the practice would instil a feeling of committed patriotism and nationalism. However, the order had not specified any exemption for disabled people unable to stand up.
- Bench said that term “physically-handicapped persons” would specifically mean those coming under Sections 2(i) and 2(t) of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
- Section 2 (i) of Act defines ‘disability’ as “blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, loco motor disability, mental retardation, mental illness.”
- Section 2 (t) defines a ‘person with disability’ as somebody suffering from not less than 40 per cent of any disability as certified by a medical authority.
- The court clarified that when it had ordered doors to be “closed” in cinema halls during the rendition of the anthem on November 30, it did not mean that the doors would be bolted.
- The Bench referred to the Supreme Court’s own judgment in 2011 in the Uphaar fire tragedy in this aspect. The court had forbidden cinemas to lock their doors when patrons were inside the building.
- The clarification came on a plea by a film society participating in the 21st International Film Festival being held in Kerala.