Censorship Issues – Censor Board, Banning films, etc

What govt proposes to change in film certification

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Censorship of movies

The Centre has recently released the draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021 to the general public for comments.

Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021

  • The new draft proposes to amend the Cinematograph Act of 1952 with some provisions.
  • It seeks to give the Centre “revisionary powers” and enable it to “re-examine” films already cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

A look at what the draft proposes to change:

(a) Revision of certification

  • This will equip the Centre with revisionary powers on account of violation of Section 5B(1) (principles for guidance in certifying films).
  • The current Act, in Section 6, already equips the Centre to call for records of proceedings in relation to a film’s certification.
  • The Ministry of I&B explained that the proposed revision “means that the Central Government, if the situation so warranted, has the power to reverse the decision of the Board”.
  • Currently, because of a judgment by the Karnataka High Court, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in November 2020, the Centre cannot use its revisionary powers on films that have already been granted a certificate by the CBFC.

Issues

  • The draft comes shortly after the abolition of the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal, which was the last point of appeal for filmmakers against the certificate granted to their film.
  • The draft has been criticized by filmmakers and term it a “super censor”.

(b) Age-based certification

  • The draft proposes to introduce age-based categorisation and classification. Currently, films are certified into three categories — ‘U’ for unrestricted public exhibition; ‘U/A’ that requires parental guidance for children under 12; and ‘A’ for adult films.
  • The new draft proposes to divide the categories into further age-based groups: U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+.
  • This proposed age classification for films echoes the new IT rules for streaming platforms.

(c) Provision against piracy

  • The Ministry noted that at present, there are no enabling provisions to check film piracy in the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
  • The draft proposes to add Section 6AA that will prohibit unauthorized recording.
  • The proposed section states, no person shall, without the written authorization of the author, be permitted to make an audio-visual recording device.
  • Violation shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than three months and may extend to three years and with a fine which shall not be less than Rs 3 lakh which may extend to 5 per cent of the audited gross production cost or with both.

(d) Eternal certificate

  • The draft proposes to certify films for perpetuity.
  • Currently, a certificate issued by the CBFC is valid only for 10 years.
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