The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting recently released the draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The bill proposes to amend the Cinematograph Act of 1952 with some provisions and bring back its “revisionary powers” over the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
Cinematograph Act of 1952
The Cinematograph Act of 1952 is an act made for the certification and exhibition of films. The Act states that a film will not be certified if any part of the film is against sovereignty and integrity of the country, security and friendly relations with foreign nations. It also prohibits films against public order, decency, involves defamation or contempt of court and is likely to ignite any offence. Though there are several minor details in the rules, scenes with extreme violence, vulgarity, contempt of court, an insult to the national symbol, obscene language, the incorrect portrayal of personalities, religion, etc., are not permitted.
A film is judged based on its overall impact and period depicted and contemporary standards in the country. It also considered the people to whom the film relates and does not affect the audience’s morality. While certifying films for unrestricted public exhibition, the CBFC ensures that the movie is suitable for family viewing, which means children and adults can view it together.
Films are certified into four categories which are U – unrestricted, UA – unrestricted but with a parental discretion advisory for children under 12 years, A – adult and S – only for a special class of persons. Film certification is frequently in the news due to constant arguements between filmmakers and the Censor Board . The filmmakers want freedom while producing and presenting films to the audience, the Board sees it as its duty to recommend suitable edits and cuts to the films and make them appropriate for viewing for the public.
Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), also known as the Censor Board, is a significant body that deals with film certification in India and is under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry which manages the public exhibition of films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952. Films can be exhibited to the public only after they have been certified by the CBFC.
The mission of CBFC is to ensure healthy entertainment, recreation and education to the public and make a transparent and responsible certification process. The Board also creates awareness among advisory panel members, media, and filmmakers about the guidelines for certification and the current film trend through meetings and workshops.
They adopt modern technology for the certification process and maintain transparency about its activities through voluntary disclosures, implementation of e-governance, replies to RTI queries, and annual report publication.
Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021
The Amendment proposes to revise the certification, have age-based certification, provision against privacy and eternal certificate.
Revision of certification: During violation of Section 5B(1) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952, the government can order for “re-examination” by the certification board of an already certified film after receiving complaints. Section 5B(1) manages with the principles for guidance in certifying films from Article 19(2) and is non-negotiable. Currently, the Centre has the power to call for the record of proceedings concerning certification of a film and pass any order. The Central Government has the power to change the decision of the Censor Board.
Age-Based Certification: The Amendment introduces age-based categorisation and classification. At present, films are certified into three categories which are ‘U’ for unrestricted public exhibition, ‘U/A’ that requires parental guidance for children under 12, and ‘A’ for adult films. The new one proposes to divide the categories into different age-based groups: U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+. This age classification for films echoes the new IT rules for streaming platforms.
Provision against piracy: The Ministry noted no enabling arrangements to examine film piracy in the Cinematograph Act, 1952. The Amendment proposes to add Section 6AA that will prohibit unauthorised recording. The proposed section states that no person shall be permitted to make an audio-visual recording device without the author’s written authorisation. Violation of this aspect shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than three months and up to three years and with a fine less than Rs 3 lakh, which may be up to 5 per cent of the audited gross production cost or with both.
Eternal Certificate: the present certification is valid only for ten years. The Amendments plans to make the certification valid with no end date.