SC Modifies National Anthem Order: Grants Exemption To Persons With Disabilities [Read Petition and Order]
‘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’ said the Bench.
The Supreme Court today speaking through Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy issued two clarifications in the Interim order dated 30.11.2016 wherein a set of Seven binding directions to be operative from tomorrow were passed.
Hearing two interlocutory applications filed seeking impleadment as a party respondent and seeking recall of the order dated 30.11.2016 filed by the petitioner film society namely Kodangular Film Society and its president Anoop Kumaran who is a delegate in the International Film Festival (IIFK) commencing from 9th December, the bench clarified and modified the earlier order to the extent that physically challenged i.e. persons with disability as under section 2(i) and 2(t) of the Disability Act, 1995 shall not be asked to stand up. It was further clarified that as per Para 75 of the verdict in Uphaar Cinema case (2011), the doors shall not be bolted.
“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. [(2011) 14 SCC 481], but only to regulate the ingress and egress during the period while the National Anthem is played.”
AG submitted that that regarding ‘how the physically challenged or physically handicapped persons shall show respect to the National Anthem’, the Central Government will issue guidelines within ten days hence. Then the Bench observed as follows:
“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. When we say 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.”
This clarification has amended two key directions namely that the entry and exit doors shall be closed while playing the national anthem and that all citizens uniformly have to stand up and participate in the proceedings.
While admitting the IAs and posting them along with the main matter on 14.02.2017, Justice Dipak Misra however orally observed that he wondered how any free speech issue arose in the petition.
Earlier in the hearing, Mr. C U Singh made it clear that the applicants are law abiding citizens and they do not join issue with standing up for the national anthem.
The hearing and the consequent order leads to a conclusion that the Supreme Court has agreed that the National Anthem Order needs a larger debate and has scope of clarification and modification. The bench also orally observed that we may seek response from states.
Senior Advocates Chander Uday Singh, Siddarth Luthra and Advocate PV Dinesh representing the applicants argued that the whole issue required a debate. To this the Bench replied as follows:
"As far as the recall of the order is concerned, the same has to be heard on merits when the matter is finally debated upon”
The Bench also asked Senior Advocate CU Singh to re-look on some of the grounds mentioned in the Petition and Mr Singh agreed for the same.
Read the petition and the order here.
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