Even as it granted 10 days to the authorities in states and union territories to abide by its directions on the national anthem, the Supreme Court order that the door of cinema halls “shall remain closed” while the anthem is being played may call for a further clarification.
Dealing with the 1997-Uphaar fire tragedy case in which 59 lives were lost in a fire inside the Delhi cinema hall, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court had issued a set of safety guidelines for movie theaters.
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One of these stated that “under no circumstances, the entry door (which can act as an emergency exit in the event of fire or other emergency) should be bolted from outside”. This direction was passed after the bench had noted that one of the doors in Uphaar cinema was bolted from outside and it forbid scores of victims from escaping the blaze who got trapped and died.
Besides, Rule 10 of Delhi Cinematograph Rules lays down that every auditorium must have two or more different thoroughfares or open spaces from which there is at all times free means of rapid dispersal. This rule also says that all doors through which the public have to pass on the way to open air shall be available for exit during the whole time that the public are in the building and during such time shall not be locked or bolted. Therefore, when the top court says that doors shall remain closed and they can be opened after the anthem is over, an elucidation may be required regarding bolting of the doors.
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