The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has proposed a new Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which is to be discussed in the Parliament today. Among many other things, it provides the Union government the privilege to order ‘reexamination’ of an already certified film, and scrap incendiary movies which might be already cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
“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”,the I&B Ministry added.
Lately, the films certified by the CBFC have come under intense scrutiny for allegedly pushing anti-Hindu agendas. The Parliamentary Committee will discuss the proposed new Cinematograph Bill 2021 of the Central Government today. Actor Kamal Haasan will attend this meeting on behalf of the film industry. The bill received a lot of criticism from many actors and filmmakers which include more than 3000 people of the film industry who have signed and sent their objection to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
These include many big names like Vishal Bhardwaj, Mira Nair, AnuragKashyap, ShabanaAzmi, FarhanAkhtar, Hansal Mehta, RakeyshOmprakashMehra and Kamal Haasan who have been seen actively opposing this bill. They claim the new cinematography bill is a threat to the freedom of expression.
It is important to note that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) was created under the Cinematograph Act 1952. The Central Government has proposed to amend the Cinematograph Act,1952 itself. According to the rules, it is necessary to consult the public before implementing the new act. Although, it is necessary to provide a public scrutiny for comments and suggestions for 30 days, the government had provided only 14 days for public consultation until 2nd June, 2021. This further added fuel to the fire over the controversy surrounding the bill.
There was no strict law regarding piracy in the Cinematograph Act 1952, which is currently in force. Section 6AA has been recently added in the Cinematography Bill 2021. Under this new section, copying any film without rights will be considered an offense and strict action will be taken against the person. In case of piracy, a provision of imprisonment for three months to three years and a fine of three lakh rupees have been added to the accused. Along with this, 5 percent of the production value of the pirated film may also have to be paid in fine. The government aims at curbing piracy with this new bill.
6AA: “Notwithstanding any law for the time being in force, no person shall without the written authorization of the author be permitted to use any audio visual recording device 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.”
TFI has already reported about this bill last month when the draft of Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was first introduced and opened to the general public for comments. They explained the provisions of the bill and further explained why people are against it, as it will thwart the ability to churn Hinduphobic content. They have provided examples of movies like Sherni and PK to elaborate on the same.
The proposed amendments in the Cinematograph Act aims to increase Industry revenues, boost job creation, fulfill important objectives of India’s National IP policy and will give relief against piracy and infringing content online. However, the major issue creating controversy is that under the Cinematography Bill 2021, the government will have enough authority to cancel the certificate of that film. TFI had argued at the time that movies like PK which attacked the Hindu faith would not have gone unchecked with the new draft bill.
However, by feting the movie, the government has sent strong signals on checking the menace of anti-Hindu movies. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right of every citizen however it is not absolute and the government has the right to intervene when it curbs the liberty of another, hurts sentiments, spreads hatred or triggers violence.