According to the draft of the new Cinematograph bill, the Centre may soon have revisionary powers over the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
The centre will be able to ask the CBFC to review and re-examine an already certified film if it feels that the movie goes against the interest of sovereignty and integrity of the people of India. These may include movies which are offensive about the relation of India with foreign states, public order, decency and morality.
As per the notification, “The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting proposes to introduce the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which will make the process of sanctioning of films for exhibition more effective, in tune with the changing times and curb the menace of piracy”.
The Supreme Court had upheld a Karnataka High Court order in November of 2000 which had put down the Centre’s “revisional powers in respect of films that are already certified by the Board”. Currently, the Centre on Friday has started to process an amendment of the decade old Cinematograph Act.
The draft of the Cinematograph Amendment Bill 2021 was put out by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to seek public comments by July 2 regarding the same before it goes to the Parliament.
As per the draft the Amendment bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha in February 2019 and several suggestions were made by the standing committee on Information and technology after which, relevant changes were made.
The bill now also includes provisions to tackle the challenge of Piracy with Jail terms and fine. The centre also plans to introduce age based certification like U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+.
The ministry of Information and broadcasting in the draft said that, “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 necessary, direct the Chairman of the Board to re-examine the film”.
The Information and Broadcasting ministry also highlighted that 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.
Regarding piracy, the ministry said, “In most cases, illegal duplication in cinema halls is the originating point of piracy. At present, there are no enabling provisions to check film piracy in the Cinematograph Act, 1952”. Thus, the ministry has proposed the introduction of section 6AA.
As per section 6AA “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.”
The breach of section 6AA will result in jail term not less than 3 months extendable to 3 years with a fine of not less than 3 lakhs which may extend to 5 percent of the audited gross production cost or with both.