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The draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

The draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021:


Context:

The Standing Committee on Information and Technology has conveyed its discontent to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the “super censorship” clause introduced in the draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021.

 

Cause of concern:

In the draft, there is a provision which allows the government to order recertification for a film already certified by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

  • The government says the clause would only be invoked if the content of a film impinged on security and integrity of the nation.

Issues now are:

  1. When there were existing penal provisions to deal with such a situation, did the Ministry felt it necessary to incorporate this in the Bill.
  2. Why should this power to adjudicate be vested with a bureaucrat?
  3. Besides, a Supreme Court order passed in 2000 says that the government could not exercise revisional powers on films already certified by the CBFC.

 

Key Provisions in the draft bill:

  1. Age-based certification: It seeks to introduce age-based categorisation and classification. It proposes to divide the existing categories (U, U/A and A) into further age-based groups: U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+.
  2. Provision against piracy: At present, there are no enabling provisions to check film piracy. Violation shall be punishable with imprisonment and fine.
  3. Eternal certificate: It proposes to certify films for perpetuity. Currently a certificate issued by the CBFC is valid only for 10 years.

 

Other Concerns associated:

  1. 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.

 

Insta Curious: 

Do you know that Censorship was born in India in 1918 with the enactment of the Censorship Act. The 1918 Act gave the district magistrate the power to issue licences to exhibitors, and the government to appoint inspectors to examine and certify films as “suitable for public exhibition”. Read more about this,  Read here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT).
  2. About CBFC.
  3. The Cinematograph Act of 1952.
  4. New amendments.

Mains Link:

Discuss the Concerns associated with the recent amendments.

Sources: the Hindu.