Centre plans Bill to order censors to re-examine a cleared film

The Centre on Friday sought public comments on its draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which proposes to bring back its “revisionary powers” over the Central Board of Film Certification. This would empower the Centre to order “re-examination” of an already certified film, following receipt of complaints.

In November 2000, the Supreme Court had upheld a Karnataka High Court order which struck down the Centre’s “revisional powers in respect of films that are already certified by the Board”. The draft Bill also includes provisions to penalise film piracy with jail term and fine, and introduce age-based certification. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said it wanted to add a provision “for granting revisionary powers to the government on account of violation of Section 5B(1) of the Act” (principles for guidance in certifying films). It mentioned that underneath Part 6 of the prevailing Cinematograph Act, 1952, the Centre was empowered to name for the document of proceedings in relation to certification of a movie and go any order thereon. This “implies that the Central Authorities, if the scenario so warranted, has the ability to reverse the choice of the Board. The notification, which sought comments by July 2, said the provisions relating to certification of films under “unrestricted public exhibition” category are proposed to be amended so as to sub-divide the existing UA category into age-based categories like U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+.