National Anthem playing in Cinema Halls in India

Directions to play National Anthem of India

On 30th November, 2016, taking note of the assertions made in the petition, Court had passed an interim order, which reads thus:-

―Having heard the learned counsel for the parties and awaiting the reply from the Union of India, as an interim measure, it is directed that the following directions shall be scrupulously followed:-

(a) There shall be no commercial exploitation to give financial advantage or any kind of benefit. To elaborate, the National Anthem should not be utilized by which the person involved with it either directly or indirectly shall have any commercial benefit or any other benefit.

(b) There shall not be dramatization of the National Anthem and it should not be included as a part of any variety show. It is because when the National Anthem is sung or played it is imperative on the part of every one present to show due respect and honour. To think of a dramatized exhibition of the National Anthem is absolutely inconceivable.

(c) National Anthem or a part of it shall not be printed on any object and also never be displayed in such a manner at such places which 3 may be disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect. It is because when the National Anthem is sung, the concept of protocol associated with it has its inherent roots in National identity, National integrity and Constitutional Patriotism.

(d) All the cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem.

(e) Prior to the National Anthem is played or sung in the cinema hall on the screen, the entry and exit doors shall remain closed so that no one can create any kind of disturbance which will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem. After the National Anthem is played or sung, the doors can be opened.

(f) When the National Anthem shall be played in the Cinema Halls, it shall be with the National Flag on the screen.

(g) The abridge version of the National Anthem made by any one for whatever reason shall not be played or displayed.‖

4. After issuing the directions, this Court noted the submissions of the learned Attorney General which were to the following effect:-

―We have so directed as Mr. Mukul Rohtagi, learned Attorney General for India submits with all humility at his command and recommend that National Anthem has to be respected. The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National 4 Anthem as well as to the National Flag. That apart, it would instill the feeling within one, a sense committed patriotism and nationalism.

Modification of directions on 14th February, 2017

In view of the aforesaid, it is clarified that when the National Anthem is sung or played in the storyline of a feature film or par of the newsreel or documentary, apart from what has been stated in the order dated 30.11.2016, the audience need not stand.

At this juncture, we may state that the Parliament has brought a new legislation called ‘The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. Section 102 repeals ‘The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunity Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. This Court on 9.12.2016 has modified the earlier order regard being had to the handicapped persons keeping in view the 1995 Act. On a query being made, Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, learned Attorney General for India submitted that the Union of India shall issue an appropriate notification/guidelines in view of the language employed in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. The said notification/guidelines may be issued within a week hence.

Mr. Subhash Chandran, learned counsel submits that he may be permitted to file an application for intervention on behalf of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled. He is at liberty to file the application.‖

7. On 18th April, 2017, dealing with I.A. No.15 of 2017, which also related to disabled persons, certain modifications were made. The said order is as follows:-

―This is an application filed by the NPRD to direct the respondent No.1 to exempt certain categories of disabled persons from the purview of the order of this Court dated 30th November, 2016 and 9th December, 2016. The categories of persons mentioned are:-

(i) Wheel chair users – can be cerebral palsy, Parkinsons, Multiple sclerosis, Muscular dystrophy or other conditions

(ii) Those with autism

(iii) Those with cerebral palsy

(iv) Intellectual disabilities

(v) Mental illness

(vi) Deaf blind

(vii) Multiple disabilities

(viii) Parkinsons, Multiple sclerosis

(ix) Leprosy cured

(x) Muscular dystrophy Having heard learned counsel for the parties, we are inclined to modify the orders and direct that the persons who are wheel chair users, those with autism, persons suffering from cerebral palsy, multiple disabilities, parkinsons, multiple sclerosis, leprosy cured, muscular dystrophy and deaf and blind be treated not to be within the ambit of the orders passed by this Court.

As far as the other categories, which we have not referred to mentioned in the application, are concerned, the same may be considered by the Union of India.

Modifications dated 9th January 2018

When we consider the perspectives put forth before us pronounced in their own way, we have no shadow of doubt that one is compelled to show respect whenever and wherever the National Anthem is played. It is the elan vital of the Nation and fundamental grammar of belonging to a nation state. However, the prescription of the place or occasion has to be made by the executive keeping in view the concept of fundamental duties provided under the Constitution (See article 51-A) and the law.

In view of the aforesaid, we do not intend to keep the writ petition pending and dispose of the same with the following directions:-

(i) The Committee appointed by the Union government shall submit its recommendations to the competent authority in terms of the Notification dated 5th December, 2017, for follow up action.

(ii) The order passed on 30th November, 2016, is modified to the extent that playing of the National Anthem prior to the screening of feature films in cinema halls is not mandatory, but optional or directory.

(iii) Since the Committee constituted by the Union government is looking into all aspects of the matter, it shall make its recommendations uninfluenced by the interim directions of this Court, as clarified in our order dated 23rd October, 2017. Similarly, the competent authority shall in taking its decision(s) not be constrained or influenced by any of the interim directions.

(iv) Citizens or persons are bound to show respect as required under executive orders relating to the National Anthem of India and the prevailing law, whenever it is played or sung on specified occasions.

(v) The exemption granted to disabled persons shall remain in force till the final decision of the competent authority with regard to each occasion whenever the National Anthem is played or sung.

[Source: Shyam Narayan Chouksey vs Union Of India, decided by SC on 9 January, 2018]
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