Draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021

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    Recently, the government released the draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021 to the general public for comments until July 2. 

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

     

    About 

    • In November 2000, the Supreme Court had upheld a Karnataka High Court order which struck down the Centre’s “revisional powers in respect of films that are already certified by the Board”.
    • The “Supreme Court has also opined that the Legislature may, in certain cases, overrule or nullify the judicial or executive decision by enacting an appropriate legislation”.
      • In this regard, it is stated that sometimes complaints are received against a film that alludes to violation of Section 5B(1) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 after a film is certified.

     

    Proposed Amendment 

    • Revision of certification
      • It proposes to add a provision to the Act that will equip the Centre with revisionary powers on account of violation of Section 5B(1) (principles for guidance in certifying films).
      • It is also proposed in the Draft Bill to add a provision to sub-section (1) of section 6 to the effect that on receipt of any references by the Central Government in respect of a film certified for public exhibition, on account of violation of Section 5B(1) of the Act.
      • The Central Government may, if it considers it necessary to do so, direct the Chairman of the Board to re-examine the film.
        •    The proposed revision “means that the Central Government, if the situation warranted, has the power to reverse the decision of the Board”.
    • The newly added clause reads – “Since the provisions of Section 5B(1) are derived from Article 19(2) of the Constitution (reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech) and are non-negotiable.
    • 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.
    • 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 unauthorised recording
        • The proposed section states, “notwithstanding any law for the time being in force, no person shall, without the written authorisation of the author, be permitted to use any audio-visual recording device in a place to knowingly make or transmit or attempt to make or transmit or abet the making or transmission of a copy of a film or a part thereof”.
        • Violation shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term “which shall not be less than three months but which may extend to three years and with a 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.
      •  Currently, a certificate issued by the CBFC is valid only for 10 years.

    About Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)

    • It is a statutory body under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, regulating the public exhibition of films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952.
    • Films can be publicly exhibited in India only after they have been certified by the Central Board of Film Certification.
    • Composition 
      • The Board consists of non-official members and a Chairman (all of whom are appointed by Central Government) and functions with headquarters at Mumbai. 
      •  The members of the panels are nominated by the Central Government by drawing people from different walks of life for 2 years.
      • The Certification process is following The Cinematograph Act, 1952, The Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983, and the guidelines issued by the Central government u/s 5 (B).

     

    Source: TH