I&B Ministry amends Cinematograph Act for govt to review films even after CBFC clearance

As revealed in I&B Ministry's public notice, a change in the Cinematograph Act has been proposed that would enable the Indian government to hold more power over the supposedly autonomous CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification).

Shivani
Published on: 29 Jun 2021 6:36 AM GMT
I&B Ministry amends Cinematograph Act for govt to review films even after CBFC clearance
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I&B Ministry proposes change in Cinematograph Act 

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In what will be a monumental yet debatable move in order to tighten the censorship of films, via MediaNama, the I&B (Information and Broadcasting) Ministry has proposed a change in the Cinematograph Act which allows the Indian government to review movies that have already been cleared by the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification). According to MIB's (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) public notice, the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021 was introduced "to tackle the menace of film piracy."

I&B Ministry proposes change in Cinematograph Act

As per the public notice, it was elaborated, "Adding a proviso to sub-section (1) of section 6 for granting revisionary powers to the Government on account of violation of Section 5B(1) of the Act: Since the provisions of Section 5B(1) are derived from Article 19(2) of the Constitution and are non-negotiable, it is also proposed in the Draft Bill to add a proviso 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 so to do, direct the Chairman of the Board to re-examine the film."

The reason why this proposal will raise many eyebrows is that CBFC is supposed to run autonomously while this change suggests that the government would hold power over the Censor Board's decisions directly. In the notice, the Indian government has invited comments on the Draft Amendment Bill from the general public stating, "MIB solicits comments from General Public on the Draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 by 2nd July, 2021." However, the courts have struck down the post-facto censorship provision which earlier existed in the Cinematograph Act.

The Indian government, through this amendment, is reinstating that provision through legislation and it's unclear as to what exactly would be different this time around. The reason being that the struck-off provision was part of the parent legislation too. It wasn't a part of the subordinate legislation that was easier to hold unconstitutional.

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Shivani

Shivani

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