Bombay High Court: How Can a Physically Fit Actor Above 65 Years Live a Dignified Life Without Access to Livelihood?

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The actor filed a writ petition against the government guidelines which refused cast/crew members above 65 years access to sets. The Court sought a reply from the state.

Brief Facts of the Case

In light of the ongoing pandemic, the government issued specific guidelines on 30 May 2020. The state issued the guidelines as a part of their ‘Mission Begin Again’ initiative. As per the guidelines, a cast/crew-member above the age of 65 years couldn’t be present at the sets. However, the 65-year-old actor filed the present writ petition.

Petitioner’s Submissions

The petitioner submitted that the actor performs small roles in TV serials and films. The actor has earned its livelihood through this for the past 40 years. Despite the fitness of the actor, the guidelines restrict the petitioner’s entry inside the studios. The guidelines issued by the government, thus, deprives one of its livelihood. The petitioner also submitted that majority of persons affected by the pandemic are below the age of 65 years. Moreover, the petition stated that grave hardship and prejudice will be caused to the actor if the guidelines stay in force. It was further stated that the petitioner will not be able to survive with human dignity and self-respect without a source of livelihood.

Subsequently, the petitioner prayed that the Court set aside this condition from the set of guidelines issued by the government.

Respondent’s Submissions

The government pleader informed the Court that as per the guidelines, castings should be done via Facetime, Zoom, Skype, etc.

Court’s Observations

The Court observed that it is not workable for actors performing small roles to shoot via Facetime, Zoom. As a practice, it is necessary for them to go to the studios and request for work to sustain themselves. In this scenario, no producer/director will agree to shoot their role via Facetime, Zoom, Skype, etc.

Court’s Decision

The Court directed the respondents to file an affidavit to explain how a physically fit person above 65 years can live a dignified life without a source of livelihood. The Court also directed the respondents to set out the following in its affidavit:

  • Data/Reports/Statistics taken into consideration before issuing the impugned guidelines of restraining access of cast/crew members above the age of 65 years from sets/shootings;
  • Whether a similar rule applies to individuals above 65 years travelling by train/bus/aircraft, etc;
  • Whether a similar rule applies to employers/staff members in shops/private offices;
  • Moreover, whether a similar rule applies to individuals allowed to attend funerals/marriage receptions, etc.

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