The Central Government has released the draft of the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021 this month. Public opinion has been sought on this by July 2. Broadly speaking, in the new draft, the proposal to amend the Cinematograph Act of 1952 gives some new powers to the central government. Under this, the government can ‘re-examine’ films even after approval by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) ie Censor Board. Can make changes in the certificate received by the film and can also take action on it as per his wish.
Ruckus on the right to change the certification
The most debated in the entire bill is about the right to ‘change in certification’. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has proposed to add a provision in the Act, which gives revisionary powers to the Center to re-examine and modify the same for violation of Section 5B(1) (Principles of Guidance in Certifying Films). . However, in the Act that is in force, Section 6 also empowers the Center to order a call for proceedings in respect of the certification of a film, i.e., for the record of the proceedings. The ministry clarified that the proposed amendment means that if such a situation arises, the central government will have the power to reverse the decision of the censor board.
What does the current applicable Act say
Due to a decision of the Karnataka High Court in the Act which is currently in force, which was also upheld by the Supreme Court in November 2020, the Central Government cannot re-examine films which have already been certified by the Censor Board.
First tribunal abolished, now new law
One thing to note here is that this draft from the government has come at a time when the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal, ie the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal, was abolished recently. This tribunal gave the right to the filmmakers to appeal against any of their films if they are not happy with the certificate from the censor board.
Government wants certification by age
In the new draft, it has also been said to divide films into categories on the basis of age. Think of it in this way that till now films used to get three types of certificates – U, U/A and A. That is, anyone can watch films with U. U/A, which can be viewed by children below 12 years of age with their parents, and A, which is for adults only. Now in the new draft, there is talk of dividing these certificate categories according to age. The proposal talks about dividing the films as U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+. Here every digit is an age. Along with this, the streaming platform ie OTT platform will also need certification. More or less everyone has welcomed this rule.
Preparation to curb piracy
In the new draft, the government has also stressed on making the rules strict to curb piracy. The ministry says that at present there are no effective provisions in the Cinematograph Act, 1952 to prevent film piracy. Section 6AA is proposed to be added to the draft which bans recording of films without rights. It states, ‘Notwithstanding the application of any law, no person shall, without the written authorization of the author, knowingly make or transmit or attempt to make any audio-visual recording device .’ Violation of this law in the draft has a provision of imprisonment of not less than three months, which can be extended to three years. Apart from this, a minimum fine of Rs 3 lakh will be imposed.
These 5 suggestions are given in the letter of filmmakers
Overall, the main concern of the filmmakers is the power given to the government, which allows them to rein in the film only after the certification of the censor board. The filmmakers have shown a kind of agreement on the government’s draft regarding certification and piracy. In the open letter written by the makers to the government, five suggestions have also been given. Makers want the government to include it in their draft.
1. The role of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) should be clarified in the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021. If it is kept in the form of such a body, then give certification to films in terms of their content, and not censor the film. Cut it.
2. The powers given to the government in the draft for review or re-examination of the certificate of the film should be cancelled. Makers say that we agree with the spirit of the Supreme Court’s decision, which said that it would violate the rule of division of powers in our democracy.
3. Makers agree that film piracy is the real challenge. But the proposed amendment only introduces a provision for punishment, which needs to be addressed effectively. If it is offered, exceptions should be made which include fair use, minimal use, and certain things that work for films.
4. Makers have sought reinstatement of the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal as it gives an accessible and less costly authority to filmmakers.
5. Makers say that there should be a clear definition of public exhibition in the act. It should also include only the revenue model associated with commercial films and theatrical exhibitions.