Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023
Provision of the Bill
Provision for Anti-piracy
- Section 6AA: To prohibit the unauthorised recording of films and prohibit the recording of any part of the film for the sole usage of the same device.
- Section 6AB: To prohibit the exhibition of unauthorisedly recorded films.
- Piracy a punishable offence: The above offences will be punishable with imprisonment between 3 months and 3 years, and a fine between Rs. 3 Lakh and 5% of the audited gross production cost.
- Recording or helping a person record any film that is being exhibited at a cinema theatre using audio-visual devices has been prohibited under the Bill.
Provision related to certification
- Expansion of Certificate Categories: It introduces three certifications under the ‘UA’ category, UA 7+, UA 13+ and UA 16+, which means that children younger than the given age limits can access such movies with parental guidance.
- Revisional Power of centre: it clarifies that the Centre will not have any revisional powers over Center Board of Film Certification certificates.
- Validity of Certificate: it proposes to replace the current 10-year-old validity period for film certification with perpetual validity.
- Separate Certification: It empowers CBFC to sanction the film with a separate certificate for its exhibition on television and other media.
Need for amendment
Cinematograph Act, 1952 needed to be amended due to several reasons
- To harmonise the law with various executive orders, Supreme Court judgements, and other legislations;
- To improve the procedure for licensing films for public exhibition by the CBFC
- To expand the scope of categorisations for certification.
- To meet the demand of the film industry for addressing the menace of piracy, which is causing them huge losses.
Expected Benefits of the Bill
- Address the issue of loss of revenue
- The film industry is facing a loss of Rs 20,000 crore annually because of piracy as per Union Information and Broadcasting Minister.
- It will harmonise the Cinematograph Act with the existing laws that address piracy, the Copyright Act, 1957, the Information Technology Act (IT) 2000 and judgement given by Supreme court and high courts.
- It will address the issue of film piracy by transmission of unauthorised copies on the internet.
- It will improve the procedure for certification of films for public exhibition by the CBFC.
- It also improves the categorisation of the certification of the films.
- Institutes for the animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC) sector expected to provide skilled manpower to the fast-growing field and bill will create a fertile ground for them.
Issue with the bill
- The bill still does not create objective criteria for certification and the issue of CBFC not treating every film equally is not addressed.
- Clause for public participation in taking the decision of cuts was not included in the bill which makes it less participative.
- The ever expanding and changing nature of the internet doesn’t find a place in the bill which makes combating piracy a difficult task e.g., use of blockchain, end to end encryption etc.
- To ensure that the medium of film remains responsible and sensitive to the values and standards of society.
- To make sure artistic expression and creative freedom are not unduly curbed and should be regulated through due process.
- To ensure that Certification is responsive to social change.
- To make sure that the medium of film provides clean and healthy entertainment.
- To make sure that the film is of aesthetic value and cinematically of a good standard and improve social capital.
Cinematograph Act, 1952
- Section 3 of the Act states that the Central Government has the authority to constitute a Board of Film Certification consisting of a Chairman and other members.
- Section 4 of the Act states the procedure to examine the films by the Board before the release. T
- Section 5 of the Act provides the Central Government with the power to establish advisory panels at regional centres to assist the Board in the discharge of their duties.
- Section 5A of the Act provides the method of certification of the films after examination in the prescribed manner.
- Section 5B of the Act states the powers of the Board or any other authority issuing the certificate to the film
- Section 5D of the act provides for the establishment of Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FACT).
Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)
CBFC is to require cuts in films and clear them for exhibition in cinemas and on television.
- The main CBFC Board consists of a chairman and other members 12 to 25 in the number who are appointed by the Central Government.
- There are no prescribed minimum qualifications required to be a member of the CBFC as under the Cinematograph Act.
- The chairman holds office for a period of 3 years.
- The Central Government can terminate tenure of members whenever possible on reasonable grounds.
Current practice of ‘U’, ‘A’, and ‘UA’ certification
- A “U” certification is for unrestricted public exhibition
- “A” certification is restricted to adult audiences.
- “UA” certification is for unrestricted public exhibition, subject to parental guidance for children under the age of 12.
Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FACT)
It is a statutory body headed by a chairperson assisted by four members.
- Any applicant for a Certificate in respect of a film who is aggrieved by an order of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), can file an Appeal directly to tribunal.
- The Tribunal hears the appeals filed under Section 5C of the Cinematography Act.
K.A. Abbas v. Union of India
Supreme Court held that film censorship, comprising pre-censorship in India was legal because it is a reasonable restriction under Art 19(2).
Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting v. Bengal Cricket Association
Supreme Court declared that freedom of speech comprises the “right to hold the knowledge and impart the same to the citizens.” As a result, Article 19(1)(a) comprises the right of spectators.
F.A. Picture International v. Central Board of Film Certification
High Court of Bombay opined that “In a free and open society censorship can be regarded within the strictest plausible boundaries and stringently within the confines which are envisaged in democratic institutions.”
Bobby Art International v. Om Pal Singh Hoon
Supreme court opined that “The film must be assessed in its totality. When the film’s purpose is to denounce female exploitation, violence, and rape, depictions of nudity and rape, as well as the use of expletives, are acceptable to further the film’s purpose by evoking disgust against the offenders and sympathy for the victim.”
Pratibha Naitthani v Union of India
- Bombay High Court held that the restriction upon cable operators and cable service providers that no programme should be transmitted that is not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition did not violate their right to carry on trade and business.
- The Court further held that only films sanctioned by the CBFC, under the Cinematograph Act and Rules, as suitable for “unrestricted public exhibition” could be telecast or transmitted on Cable TV.
Union of India v KM Shankarappa
- High Court of Karnataka in Union of India v KM Shankarappa held that the government cannot exercise the revising power in respect of films that have already been certified by the board.
- The judgment was later upheld by the Supreme Court.