The draft was recently released by the Centre. It seeks to amend the Cinematograph Act of 1952.
- 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.
- Age-based certification
- The draft proposes to introduce age-based categorization 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.
- 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.
- Eternal certificate
- The draft proposes to certify films for perpetuity.
- Currently, a certificate issued by the CBFC is valid only for 10 years
- Power of the Centre to order for recertification may lead to an additional layer of direct government censorship going beyond that envisaged by the existing process run by the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC).
- This provision also goes against the Supreme Court’s view that the government has no right to demand censorship once the Board has certified a film has left the Centre powerless.
- Various groups or individuals often object to a film just before the release, but after the certification process. with the implementation of the proposed new rules, films could be held up longer for re-certification based on random objections, even if it is already certified by the cbfc.
What does the government say on this?
The government cites the “reasonable restrictions” placed by the constitution in Article 19 of the constitution to justify exercising its powers to act as a super-censor for films about which it receives complaints – even if the CBFC, which is the official body empowered to implement the Act, finds those film do not trigger those restrictions.
Source: Indian Express