National Anthem: Supreme Court exempts disabled, clarifies that doors won’t be bolted


The Supreme Court on Friday clarified that doors will not be bolted when the national anthem is played in cinema halls.

The apex court also added that physically handicapped people need not stand up, but only show ‘conduct commensurate to respect.’


Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed the apex court that the Centre will issue guidelines within ten days from today on how physically challenged persons should show respect to the National Anthem.

The court, however, said that physically disabled must show “some such gesture” to express their respect for anthem.

“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…

“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.  …but only to regulate the ingress and egress during the period while the National Anthem is played,” the bench said.

The matter is now fixed for hearing on February 14, 2017.

The clarification came after an organiser of an international film festival in Kerala moved the apex court seeking exemption from the November 30 on the ground that it would cause inconvenience to its 1,500 foreign guests.

To which, Justice Amitava Roy said, “Foreign delegates cannot rise five times during the film festival? I would say why not rise 20 times.”

In a bid to “instil committed patriotism and nationalism”, the top court had ordered cinema halls across the nation to mandatorily play the National Anthem before screening of a movie and the audience must stand and show respect.

The apex court had said that “love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag”.

The court’s directions came on a PIL filed by one Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking directions that the National Anthem should be played in cinema halls across the country before a film begins and proper norms and protocol be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.

On 30 November, the Supreme Court bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy had ordered playing of national anthem inside cinema halls across the country with the national flag being displayed on screens before the start of a movie.

In his interim order, Justice Dipak Misra also stated that all people present inside the theatre must rise to pay respect to the anthem.

“At the root of protocol for national anthem, is respect for national identity, integrity and constitutional patriotism,” the bench said while directing the Centre that the order should be given effect in a week’s time and be circulated to all States and Union Territories through chief secretaries.

The social media users had mocked the order with even constitutional experts expressing differing views on the verdict.

While former Attorney General and noted lawyer Soli Sorabjee said courts cannot direct the public to stand up and do anything, senior advocate K T S Tulsi said judiciary should not go into the areas which does not belong to it.

However, Meenakshi Lekhi, a lawyer and BJP MP from New Delhi constituency, said she had no reservation on the Supreme Court order saying respecting the anthem “causes no harm”.