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CINEMA AND

CENSORSHIP
IN INDIA
WHAT IS
CENSORSHIP
Censorship is the suppression of speech, public
communication or other information which may be
considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive and
politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by
the Government, media outlets, authorities or other
groups or institutions.
Film Censorship is the process of previewing a film and
it includes a decision either not to allow it for public
viewing or to allow it for public viewing with certain
modification.
The Supreme Court has held that film censorship
becomes necessary because it motivates thought and
action and assures a high degree of attention or
retention as compared to the printed words
FILM CENSORSHIP IN INDIA
The present censorship of films is governed
by the Cinematograph Act 1952, the
Cinematograph (Certification) Rules
promulgated in 1983 and the guidelines
issued from time to time, the latest having
been issued on December 1991.

The guidelines are issued under Section 5B


of the Act which says that a film shall not
be certified for public exhibition, if the film
or any part of it is against the interests of
integrity and sovereignty of India, 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.
WHO DOES FILM CENSORSHIP
The Central Board of film certification was set up in
Mumbai, intially with three regional offices at
Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta. At present it has nine
regional offices in India.

The Board consist of a Chairperson and not less than


twelve and not more than twenty five other
members appointed by the Central Government.

Then there is a Film Certification Appellate Tribunal


(FCAT) which has been constituted under Section 5D
of the Act.

The Certification rules also apply to foreign films


GUIDELINES ISSUED BY THE
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
The objective of film certification will be to that:
The medium of the film remains responsible.

Artistic expressions and creative freedom should be respected.

Human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity or obscenity.

Scenes degrading women in any manner are not presented.

Visuals or words disrespectful of social, religious or other


institutions are not presented.
Visuals or words of defamation of any individual or
group of individual and contempt of court are not
presented.

At the same time the Board of Film Certification shall


also ensure that:
Is judged in the entirety from the point of view of its
over all impact.

In the light of the period depicted in the film and the


contemporary standards of the country.
CASES RELATING TO PRE
CENSORSHIP
In K.A Abbas vs Union of India, the Court held
that pre censorship is valid in the context and
an exception to the right to freedom of
speech and expression has been provided
under Article 19(2).

In S. Rangarajan vs P. Jagjivan Ram, the Court


held that Movie motivates thought and
action and assures a higher degree of
attention and retention. It makes it impact
simultaneously arousing visual and aural
senses.
FILM POSTERS
The 1952 Act does not cover posters
or film advertisements and these
comes under common law of the
land relating to obscenity,
particularly section 292 of the Indian
Penal Code.

The Indecent Representation of


Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

The West Bengal Government have


enacted the West Bengal
(Compulsory Censorship of Film
Publicity Materials) Act 1974 to deal
with obscene and indecent posters.
PROBLEM FOR CERTIFICATION
OF CERTAIN MOVIES
Final Solution: the Central Board of film
Certification said the documentary was
highly proactive and may trigger off
unrest and communal violence.

In 2002 the film War and Peace


focusing on the dangers of the nuclear
war on the Indian Sub continent, was
asked to make 21 cuts before it was
allowed to be certified for release.
Water: A film about Hindus treatment
of widows was under attack by Hindu
nationalist in the Indian Holy city of
Varanasi. Water shows abandoned
widows living in extreme poverty, some
of whom are forced into prostitution by
Powerful Hindu Priest who run homes
for widows at holy Hindu sites.

Madras Cafe: This movie depicts the


events leading up to the assassination
in 1991 of former Prime Minister Rajiv
Gandhi. In the southern state of Tamil
Nadu, protests were made from several
Tamil groups. The protests virtually
ensured that the film was not released
in the state.
Chand Bhuj Gaya: The Censor
Board refused to certify this movie
because it is full of brutal visuals of
violence and that certain characters
have definite resemblance to real
life personalities and it was still
alive issue by then, thus inciting
communal violence. The Bombay
High Court reversed the decision of
the CBFC in the case of F A
International vs CBFC and held that
films which deals with controversial
issues have to portray what is
controversial.
THE COMMITTEE OF EXPERTS TO EXAMINE
ISSUES OF CERTIFICATION
1. Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee
The committee was tasked with recommending
ways in which India could transition from
censoring films to certifying them much like the
Motion Picture Association of America rates films
by categories of viewers.
Several key problems in the workings of the
CBFC .These include political appointments of
Board members, a vague rating system open to
wide interpretation, and an appellate panel of
limited jurisdiction.
Political Appointments
Politically affiliated appointees continue to serve on the CBFC
which is the advisory panel that reviews and certifies films.
There are still no criteria for the qualifications necessary to
serve on the panel, nor on the overall composition of the Board,
nor, even on the mode of appointment of panel members. The
present appointments to the panel are largely of persons whose
political allegiance is with the party in power.
Presently, panel members tend to view any given movie through
a political prism with the aim of censoring the movie to satisfy a
political end, instead of watching the movie as a movie alone
and only making suggestions/recommendations if need be. On
several occasions the panel members are affiliated with
particular political, social or religious groups and impose such
political, religious or personal opinions on the content of the film
which is fit for screening. Therefore, the creativity of the film
maker lies at the mercy of the advisory panel reviewing it.
Contd..
Thus, framers of further reforms must take the
utmost care to ensure that the process of
selection and appointment of such panel
members is autonomous. The objective should
be that panel members are both eligible as well
as suitable to discharge the all-important
function of deciding what films the citizens of
this country should be permitted to watch.
The Classification or Rating System
The present categories of classifications are insufficient, given
the innumerable subjects, complex themes and content of the
movies being produced today. More particularly, the category of
U/A has been found to be inadequate and there is significant
ambiguity as to the contents of the films which would classify as
U/A. There is also uncertainty in the mind of a prospective
viewer as to what to expect when a film is categorised as U/A.

Another concern is that after certification of a film, religious


groups/ individuals/ authorities may demand banning of the film
under threat of demonstrations outside theaters. Their
sentiments should be eschewed and it should be the
responsibility of the State Government to see that there is
peaceful screening of the movie after a Certificate is granted to
a movie.
Jurisdiction of FCAT
Under the mandate of the present legislation only the
applicant for certification may refer an appeal to the Film
Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT). Therefore any
other person aggrieved by the decision of the certification
board is only left with the option of moving the High Courts
and different High Courts take different stands. The limited
jurisdiction of FCAT sometimes even leads to the
unscrupulous elements stalling a movie by taking the aid of
the High Courts by filing a Writ Petition (under Article 226 of
the Constitution of India).
The Committee recommended that it is essential that the
jurisdiction of the FCAT is enlarged so as to lessen the
burden of the Courts and also provide respite to the film
Industry from frivolous petitions being filed against them
marring their business.
Contd..
The jurisdiction of the FCAT should be expanded to
permit appeals by any person aggrieved by any
order/certification passed by the Board. FCAT
should be given the power to grant interim orders
in addition to the present power. The infrastructure
of the FCAT should be commensurately augmented
in consultation with the Chairperson of the FCAT,
including increasing the number of Members
and/or benches
2. Shyam Benegal Committee
Recommendations
CBFC should only be a film certification body
whose scope should be restricted to categorizing
the suitability of the film to audience groups on the
basis of age and maturity except in the following
instances to refuse certification

-When a film contains anything that contravenes


the provisions of Section 5B (1) of the
Cinematograph Act, 1952.
-When content in a film crosses the ceiling laid
down in the highest category of certification.
Contd.

The objective of these guidelines would be to ensure


that

-Children and adults are protected from potentially


harmful or unsuitable content
-Audiences, particularly parents are empowered to make
informed viewing decisions
-Artistic expression and creative freedom are not unduly
curbed in the process of classification of films
-The process of certification by CBFC is responsive, at all
times, to social change
-The certification by CBFC keeps within the rights and
obligations as laid down in the Indian Constitution.
Contd..
Regarding the categorization of films, the committee
recommends that it should be more specific and apart from
U category, the UA Category can be broken up into further
sub-categories UA12+ & UA15+. The A category should
also be sub-divided into A and AC (Adult with Caution)
categories.
The committee has also made certain recommendations
regarding the functioning of the board and has stated that
the Board, including Chairman, should only play the role of
a guiding mechanism for the CBFC, and not be involved in
the day-to-day affairs of certification of films. The functions
of the Board shall be confined to the duties defined in the
existing CBFC rules, which inter alia include an annual
review of CBFC work, submission of annual report to the
government, review of public reactions to films, and
periodic recommendations for revision of guidelines
CENSORSHIP OF FILMS IN
FOREIGN COUNTRIES
In USA cinema enjoys first amendment
protection. The only form of control in the
United States is a voluntary classification
system operated by the film industry itself.

In UK, there is a system of censorship under


which legal decisions are taken under the
statute namely the Cinemas Act by the local
authority but in practice by the informally
constituted BBFC.
CONCLUSION
There is lack of transparency under the Act itself.

The total discretion is in the hands of the Central


Government.

Most of the time movies are not judged on the matter


of contents but on the political influences or the factors
which would be affecting the ruling party at the Centre.

There is Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2013 which


still needs approval.

Now a days censorship has been used to prohibit those


films which really holds the real picture of the society.