CINEMATOGRAPH (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2021 BY GRISHMA SHETTY @LEXCLIQ

Cinematograph (amendment) bill, 2021

By Grishma Shetty at Lexcliq

Introduction:

After considering the report made by the various committees the ministry of information and broadcasting has introduced the cinematograph (amendment) bill, 2021. Filmmakers around the country are unhappy with the bill for which the government has invited public opinion. The bill primarily deals with the piracy, sub-division of U/A category and prohibition of audio-visual recordings without written authorization of author. The prime objective to this act is to certify regulate the cinematographic content.

Features of cinematograph bill, 2021:

  1. Prevent piracy= with the advancement in technology the cases of piracy have increased drastically.
  2. Insertion of section 6AA= this section prohibits any unauthorized audio-visual recording without written authorized of the author.
  3. New section 7(1A) = punishment on contravention to section 6AA, if any person contravenes section 6AA provision then he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than 3 months which can be extended to 3 years and fine of not less than 3 lakh which can be extended to 5% of the audited gross production cost or both.
  4. Adding proviso to section 6(1)= it empowers revisionary power to central government to direct chairman of CBFC (central board for file certificate) on the violation of section 5B(1), reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech and expression as provided under article 19(1) of Indian Constitution.

Cases-

K.A.Abbas vs. Union of India

In the case, the Supreme Court evaluated the practice of pre-censorship of a cinematograph in consonance with the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. The facts of the case involved a petition in the court regarding the ‘U’ certification for a film which was refused by the Board. The interests of the investors were in question on the guidance as to the Constitutional aspect of pre-censorship. The court observed that the censorship of films is a constitutionally valid practice on the grounds mentioned in Article 19(2) of the Constitution. It provided a distinction among the films and other forms of art as a cinematograph has the ‘ability to stir up emotions more deeply than any other product of art.’

S.Rangrajan v. P.Jagjivan Ram

The Supreme Court again confronted the question of censorship of films vis-a-vis Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. In this case, the Madras High Court revoked the ‘U’ certificate issued to a film entitled “Ore Oru Gramathile” (“In Just One Village”), and also banned the exhibition of the film as there was some public protest against the film. The film was critical of the reservation policy of the Government of Tamil Nadu. During the pendency of the case, the film received the National Award by the Directorate of Film Festival of the Government of India.After the decision of the Madras High Court, the matter went to the Supreme Court on an appeal and the court reiterated the importance of the freedom of speech and expression and the role of films as a legitimate media for its exercise.

Sree Raghavendra Films v. Government of Andhra Pradesh

The exhibition of the film ‘Bombay’ in its Telugu (the official language in the State of Andhra Pradesh) version was suspended in exercise of the powers u/s.8 (1) of the A.P. Cinemas Regulation Act, 1955, despite being certified by the Censor Board for unrestricted exhibition. The suspension was imposed citing the cause that it may hurt sentiments of certain communities. The Court discovered that the authorities who passed the impugned order did not even watch the movie. Hence, the Court quashed the order as being arbitrary and not based on proper material.

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