Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FCAT

Mains level : Not Much

The Government of India’s decision to abolish the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), under the Tribunal Reforms Ordinance, 2021, has triggered a wave of criticism with filmmakers.

The FCAT was the place filmmakers walked into as a penultimate resort to challenging edits suggested to their films by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

Plunging into crisis

  • FCAT is only one of many tribunals in the country that were either abolished or amalgamated under the Ordinance.
  • Earlier, if a filmmaker fails to clear the Examining Committee (EC) and Revising Committee (RC) hurdles of the CBFC, the FCAT was the next step of recourse, but that is no longer the case.
  • FCAT only charged a nominal fee to hold the screening for its members, and it would pass its judgment immediately.

Fighting the system

  • FCAT’s panel is predominantly made up of members from industry veterans who arrive at a judgment after balancing both CBFC and the filmmaker’s points of view.
  • Most of CBFC’s decisions were overruled by the Tribunal and that has reassured constitutional rights under Article 19 to filmmakers to express themselves freely.
  • A judge will only look at the issue from a legal perspective, not whether a particular edit will constrict the flow of the movie.

Re-classifying certification

  • To avoid such issues, the Government constituted the ‘Shyam Benegal Committee’ in January 2016.
  • The committee recommended regulations for film certification — a move away from the current practice adopted by CBFC, and submitted its report in April 2016.
  • According to many, a revamp of the certification system that doesn’t require censoring or cuts is the need of the hour.
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