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Abolition of Film Certification Tribunal

Abolition of Film Certification Tribunal

Why in news?

  • The government by an ordinance has abolished the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal (FCAT).
  • The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation And Conditions Of Service) Ordinance, 2021, which came into effect on April 4, amends the Cinematograph Act, 1952 by omitting some sections and replacing the word “Tribunal” with “High Court” in other sections.
  • The abolition means filmmakers will now have to approach the High Court whenever they want to challenge a CBFC certification, or lack of it.

About Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal (FCAT)

  • The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal was a statutory body established in 1983 under the Cinematograph Act, 1952 by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
  • FCAT heard appeals filed under Section 5C of the Cinematograph Act by those aggrieved by the decision of the CBFC
  • The tribunal was headed by a chairperson and had four other members, including a Secretary appointed by the Government of India to handle. The Tribunal was headquartered in New Delhi.
  • Its main job was to hear appeals filed under Section 5C of the Cinematograph Act, by applicants for certification aggrieved by the decision of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

History of Film Certification in India

  • The first film made in India was Raja Harishchandra, which was released in 1913, and produced by Dadasaheb Phalke.
  • The Indian Cinematograph Act was passed in 1920 and it created Censor Boards in a few cities. These boards (which were autonomous) were placed under the city’s police chiefs.
  • After independence, the regional boards’ autonomy was abolished and they were brought under the Bombay Board of Film Censors.
  • In 1952, it was reconstituted as the Central Board of Film Censors.
  • In 1983, the name was changed to Central Board of Film Certification.

How films are certified?

  • The certification is given by the CBFC which is situated in nine regional offices in India, Mumbai being the prime regional office.
  • The film has to be applied for clearance at the regional office and then, an examining committee views the film to grant it the relevant clearance.
  • If the applicant is not satisfied with the clearance, he or she can go to the head office of the CBFC which is in Mumbai.
  • If the applicant is not satisfied even with the head office’s order, an appeal can be made to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal at New Delhi.
  • The CBFC certifies films under four categories:
    • U: Unrestricted public exhibition (Suitable for all age groups)
    • U/A: Parental guidance for children under age 12
    • A: Restricted to adults(Suitable for 18 years and above
    • S: Restricted to a specialized group of people, such as engineers, doctors or scientists.
  • The CBFC can also deny certification a film.

Possible Impacts of elimination of FCAT

  • Restrictive: The move is seen as empowering the hands of CBFC, a government appointed body, which in turn increases state’s role in certifying films. This can be seen as limiting the creative freedoms of film makers impacting their freedom of speech & expression under Article 19(1)(a)
  • Increases burden of Courts as now the appeals against decisions of CBFC reaches the door of High courts
  • Approach High Court: The abolition means filmmakers will now have to approach the High Court whenever they want to challenge a CBFC certification, or lack of it.
  • Disproportionately impacts small film makers: film producers of small-budget movies may not have the means to approach the courts
  • Delay in grievance redressal of film makers as the court process for resolving the appeals will take much longer than it was before (in case of FCAT)
  • Arbitrary decision: The FCAT discontinuation feels arbitrary as the decision was taken without any consultation with the stakeholders involved.    Abolition of Film Certification Tribunal

 

Mussoorie Times

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