Filmmakers Urge Centre to Drop Amendments to Cinematograph Act
Filmmakers Zoya Akhtar, Neeraj Ghaywan, and actors Farhan Akhtar and Shabana Azmi are signatories.
According to the amendments proposed to the Cinematograph Act, the Union government can direct the CBFC to re-examine any film which has been certified for public exhibition citing a violation of Section 5B(1) of the Act.
A group of young filmmakers, researchers, technicians, and others, have reportedly issued an appeal to the Ministry of I&B (Information and Broadcasting), regarding the amendment which states that the move will give the Central Government 'supreme power over cinema exhibition' which could endanger the freedom of expression, reported National Herald.
Filmmakers Zoya Akhtar, Neeraj Ghaywan, Dibakar Banerjee, Anamika Haksar, Farhan Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, actors Shabana Azmi and Rohini Hattangadi are among the signatories.
"A film shall not be certified for public exhibition if, in the opinion of the authority competent to grant the certificate, the film or any part of it is against the interests of [the sovereignty and integrity of India] the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite the commission of any offence."Section 5B (1), Cinematograph Act
"As another blow to the film fraternity, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has proposed new amendments to the Cinematograph Act under which the Central Government would have the power to revoke or recall certification of films which have already been cleared by the Censor Board," the appeal reads.
"Undermining the sovereignty of the Censor Board and the Supreme Court, this provision will effectively give the Central Government supreme power over cinema exhibition in the country potentially endangering freedom of expression and democratic dissent. This will also render filmmakers powerless at the hands of the state as more vulnerable to threats, vandalism and intimidation of mob censors.”
The statement added, “The proposal to amend the Cinematograph Act comes two months after the Centre dissolved the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) in April 2021. Now, filmmakers unhappy with the decision of the Censor Board are left with no option but to appeal in the High Courts, bearing legal cost of representation and financial loss due to potential delays in film releases until the overburdened judicial system takes up the matter."
They suggested that the role of the Central Board of Film Cetification (CBFC) be clearly defined in the Act as the body which certifies content for exhibition, instead of just a censoring body.
They added that the amendments to the Cinematograph Act be revoked, claiming that the suggestions don't address the concern of piracy either.
Referring to the penal provision suggested for piracy, the appeal reads, "If introduced, sufficient exceptions on fair use, de minimis use and derivative work specific to films must be created. Systemic solutions to genuinely counter piracy must be introduced."
The appeal also urged that the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) be reinstated.
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