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Indian National Anthem mandatory before movie screening

Instilling a sense of  “committed patriotism and nationalism.”

The National Anthem becomes mandatory. A new order by the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday stated that all cinema halls in India will have to play the national anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall have to stand up out of respect to the national anthem according to Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.

“Goa has always respected the National Anthem” – Pravin Zantye

“The practice is already being followed at 13 screens in the state. We’re proud to play our country’s national anthem and it’s a matter of great honour for us,” explains Pravin Zantye, managing partner at Hera Film Exhibitor, Goa. He, however, stated that the anthem should be provided in digital format by the content providers.

Is the stipulation going to safeguard people with disabilities?

Recently, in July this year, a writer, Salil Chaturvedi, faced embarrassment at the Inox theatre, Panaji. Seated in a wheelchair due to a spinal injury, Salil desiring only to see Rajinikanth on the big screen in the movie Kabali. Unfortunately, during the National Anthem, some person in the audience saw him seated and forced him to stand up out of respect for the national anthem.  Extremely embarrassed Salil never went to a theatre since then.

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“Is there any part in it that safeguards people like me?,” queries Salil, referring to ‘standing out of respect for the National Anthem’. The Supreme Court should take into account the fact that many in the audience could be old or disabled and unable to stand during the playing of the national anthem.

His story went viral internationally. Following the incident, he wrote to the management of Inox requesting them to flash a message on screen before playing the national anthem. Giving the audience a reminder that there may be persons in the theatre with disabilities as well as senior citizens, who may not be able to stand up during the national anthem. Therefore no one should force them to do so.

Reacting to the Supreme Court order, Chaturvedi wanted to know whether the population of persons with disabilities was taken into account. “I haven’t seen the order. Does it instruct people not to assault those who cannot stand up? I haven’t gone to a theatre since July. It’s too dangerous and a very stressful experience for me,” he told TOI.

TO INSTILL “committed patriotism and nationalism”, the Supreme Court ordered that the movie screen shall have the image of the national flag when the anthem is being played and that doors of the halls will remain shut during the anthem so that no disturbance is caused.

Laws are good. Framing laws easy. Implementing them not that easy. However, every citizen’s need must be considered before being these laws get enforced.

In a new ruling, on December 9 last year, the Supreme Court modified its November 30, 2016, order by exempting physically challenged or handicapped persons from standing up when the National Anthem is played before film screenings. 

This comes as a relief to the physically challenged, who were not exempted from standing during the National Anthem in cinema theatres.

Another clarification on the above ruling made by the Supreme Court stated There is no need to be on your feet inside a cinema hall when the National Anthem is featured as a part of a film, documentary or a newsreel.

Information credit:TOI and Indian Express.

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