Supreme Court of India on Tuesday exempted the categories of people with disabilities to stand during National Anthem in Movie halls. The categories would include people suffering from Autism, Cerebral Palsy, multiple disabilities, Parkinson’s disease, people cured of Leprosy and those suffering from Muscular Dystrophy. The court has asked the Centre to look into the case of other categories also.
Earlier order on this issue
Last year in November, the Supreme Court of India had ordered that before screening a movie the Indian National Anthem should be played in theatres across the country and everyone present at the hall should stand in attention and pay their respects to the national anthem. Citing the verdict, the top court observed that standing up for the national anthem in movie halls will ‘instil’ a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism” in people’s minds. This rule was immediately implemented and it is being strictly adhered in the movie halls all over India. That time the order was debated all across the country, while several were in favour of the anthem being sung in cinema halls, others were against it. People argued that standing up for the Anthem doesn’t prove one’s patriotism. Similarly, not standing up for the national anthem does not mean disrespecting it and certainly does not prove one unpatriotic. However, arrests were made and incidents of people being beaten up and thrashed out of movie halls for not standing up for the anthem were reported. That time the apex body did not provide any clear instructions and guidelines for the people with disabilities, because of which in a number of cases, these people also faced the wrath of people trying to enforce patriotism.
Later in January, the Central government released a list of guidelines for the disabled and differently-abled persons. The decision was taken in an attempt to abate their fears and reduce instances of disrespect shown to the national anthem. But finally, on Tuesday, Supreme court’s bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar modified its earlier November 30, 2016, order to exempt the above-mentioned category of physically disabled people from standing up when the National Anthem is played in cinema halls.
A policy to promote the national anthem
Meanwhile, the apex court has also sought response from the Centre, in four weeks, on a plea seeking to frame a policy for promoting the National Anthem and the feasibility of singing the National song ‘Vande Mataram’ for all educational and government institutions. Earlier the Court refused to go into the debate to make singing of the national song mandatory and observed that there was no concept of a National Song under the law and Article 51A which states to respect National Flag and National Anthem only. Earlier the Court refused to go into the debate for making singing of the national song mandatory and observed that there was no concept of a National Song under the law and Article 51A which states to respect National Flag and National Anthem only. The next hearing in this matter will take place on August 23, on a petition to recall the order of playing of the national anthem in movie halls compulsory. The petition argued that “the Court can’t compel anyone to stand or punish anyone who refuses.