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Post at: Jul 22 2021

Cinematograph Amendment Bill 2021

CONTEXT
Recently the government has sought public feedback on the proposed Cinematograph Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 by July 2, 2021.
ABOUT CINEMATOGRAPH (AMENDMENT) BILL 2021

  • The new draft proposes to amend the cinematograph Act of 1952 with some key provisions. The new draft it will enable to “re-examine” films already cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification.

 

  • Under section 6 of the existing cinematograph Act, 1952, the center was empowered to call for the record of proceedings in relation to certification of a film and pass any order thereon.

Age Based Certification:

  • As per the proposed law, the films will be categorized as follows -
  • Category ‘U’: This is for unrestricted public exhibition
  • Category ‘U/A’: This requires parental guidance for children under 12. ‘U/A’ is further subdivided into three categories as per the age of children - - U/A 7 + and U/A 16 +.
  • Category ‘A’: This is for adult films.

Provision Against Piracy

  • 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.

Punishment

  • Violation shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than three months and may extend to three years.

Penalty

  • Fine which shall not be less than Rs. 3 lakh but which may extend to 5 percent of the audited gross production cost or with both.

Eternal Certificate

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

CONCERNS

  • The draft has been criticized by film makers as a ‘super sensor’.
  • 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.
  • This will lead to an additional layer of direct censorship going beyond that envisaged by the CBFC.
  • Films could be held up longer for re-certification based on random objections.

CONCLUSION

The recommendations of the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee of 2013 and the Shyam Benegal Committee of 2016 have also been considered in the draft. It makes this draft need of time but reasonable restrictions placed in the name of Article 19(2) of the Indian constitution could trigger multiple complaints.

Amit Gupta


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