CONTROLLING PIRACY OR EXPRESSION? – AN ANALYSIS OF THE CINEMATOGRAPH (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2021

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The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, on June 18, 2021, sought comments from the public (“Notification”) (can be accessed here) on the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (“Bill”) which seeks to amend the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (“Act”). The Bill inter alia aims to introduce age-based sub-categories of U/A certification, prohibit and penalize unauthorized recording or transmission of a copy of a film during its exhibition, and grant the Central Government revisional powers over a film already certified for public exhibition by the Central Board of Film Certification (“CBFC”).

The extant Act came into force in 1952 and has undergone few significant amendments since its enactment (albeit a recent Ordinance that abolishes the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal) and failed to keep pace with the technological changes in filmmaking and exhibition, the choices and beliefs of the viewers, and also the contemporary standards of society, that have undergone a radical change ever since its enactment. The need to amend the Act is not alien to the Government or the industry and can be seen from the constitution of two prominent committees formed by the Government in the years 2013 and 2016, under the Chairmanship of Justice Mukul Mudgal  (“Justice Mudgal Committee”) and Mr. Shyam Benegal (“Shyam Benegal Committee”), respectively and the resulting bills namely, The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The reports prepared by the said committees as submitted to the Central Government can be accessed here and here. Some of the recommendations made by the said committees finds its way into the newly introduced Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (“New IT Rules”) for inter alia regulating the content available on over-the-top digital platforms. The Standing Committee on Information Technology chaired by Dr. Shashi Tharoor (“Standing Committee”) on the third bill introduced since the constitution of Justice Mudgal Committee and Shyam Benegal Committee, i.e., Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019, submitted its report to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in March, 2020.

It is also important to note that Bill in its current form does not contain the much-needed amendments sought to be achieved by The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which was discussed in detail here. The Bill in its current form draws from The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 along with the New IT Rules. Further, the bill presented for observations and recommendations of the Standing Committee was the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which contained amendments restricted to those proposed by way of Section 6AA and sub-section 1A of Section 7 in the current Bill. It did not contain amendments proposed in the re-categorization of certification of films or reinstatement of the revisional powers of the Central Government on films already certified for exhibition by the statutory body constituted under the Act.

As stated in paragraph 3 of the Notification, the various amendments proposed to be introduced by the Bill are aimed to make the process of sanctioning of films for exhibition more effective, in tune with the changing times and to curb the menace of piracy.  The proposed amendments are analysed and discussed below:

  1. Re-categorization of U/A category for certification of films for public exhibition:

The ‘unrestricted public exhibition subject to’ category is proposed to be amended to further sub-divide the existing U/A category into age-based categories viz., U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+. Accordingly, the following provisions in the Act that deal with ‘unrestricted public exhibition’ category are proposed to be amended:

  • proviso to clause (i) of sub-section (1) of section 4 – Examination of films;
  • clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 5A – Certification of films;
  • clause (b) of sub-section (2) of section 6 – Revisional powers of the Central Government.

The decision to sub-divide the existing U/A category into age-based categories viz., U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+ seems to be to align with the classification under the Act in line with the Code of Ethics promulgated in the New IT Rules for classification of online curated content i.e., audio-visual content made available, on over-the-top digital media platforms on-demand. It may seem to be a welcome change for an industry grappling with excisions or refusals to certify a film at the hands of CBFC and may also appear to finally give filmmakers and other stakeholders the ability to exhibit their films to the intended audiences without the need of excisions or modifications. However, a closer look at the amendments and the Act falls short of such expectations. For instance, no amendment (rather omission) has been proposed in sub-clause (iii) of sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the Act which gives CBFC the power to direct any applicant who has applied for certification of the film to carry out such excisions or modifications in the film as CBFC thinks necessary before sanctioning the film for public exhibition. This is in variance to the recommendations made by Shyam Benegal Committee, where the committee unanimously stressed the need for introducing categories of viewers for whom the depiction of a particular theme, story, scene, etc., would be palatable and to completely eliminate the power of CBFC to effect excisions or modifications. In essence, empowering the viewers to make their own decision to watch a certain content based on its certification rather than directing what viewers can watch. The recommendations of Shyam Benegal Committee found its way into The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2018, however, that bill never saw light of day and has now morphed into the current Bill which is devoid of the very essence for bringing out the age-based categories for film certification.

Under Section 5B(2) of the Act, the Central Government has the power to issue guidelines that have to be followed by the CBFC in sanctioning films for public exhibition. In exercise of such power, the Central Government had issued a set of guidelines in 1991 which are general in their categorization and prone to ambiguity or incapable of objective application and thereby leave room for the members of the CBFC, examining committee and advisory panels to exercise discretion which is usually rife with their own prejudices. The guidelines, in about 30 years, since their notification have not been updated to keep pace with the contemporary standards of the society and if those guidelines have to be followed even after the Bill receives statutory recognition, the re-categorization of U/A certification will not serve its intended purpose. Further, if new guidelines are not in consonance with the Code of Ethics formulated under the New IT Rules for audio-visual content, including films, available on over-the-top digital platforms then the talent and other stakeholders in the industry may be more likely to make content for such digital platforms which may stifle the growth of, or perhaps be a death blow for exhibition of films in cinema halls.

It is interesting to note here that the members of the CBFC, examining committee, and advisory panels are all appointed by the Central Government and there is no criteria or qualification set out in the Act or the rules made thereunder for appointment of such members. This has led to appointment of members with no cinematic understanding and they perceive their role to be that of a ‘censor board’ to cut and chop scenes and in some cases being affiliated to some political, religious or social groups, who impose without restraint, such political, religious or personal opinions upon content permissible in a film, as has been observed by the Justice Mudgal Committee in paragraph 13.1 of the report. One of the recommendations of the Justice Mudgal Committee in paragraph 13.2 of the report is that ‘Hence while great care is to be taken to appoint the members of the Board, equal care must be taken to introduce criteria to ensure that the process of selection and appointment of such panel members is autonomous and insulated as far as is possible from such errors. The objective sought to be to yields a panel of members both eligible as well as suitable to discharge the all-important function of deciding what films the citizens of this country can and will watch.’ No amendments in the provisions of appointment of members of the CBFC, examining committee or advisory panels are proposed or indicated in the Bill.

To add to the woes of the filmmakers, the Central Government has recently on April 4, 2021 vide The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021 abolished the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (“FCAT”) established under the Act, thereby making the process of appeal against the order of CBFC not only cumbersome, time-consuming but also an expensive affair, where appeals to the order of CBFC will now lie with the High Courts. It is pertinent to note here that an appeal to FCAT was speedy and required payment of a nominal fee by the applicant, and given that the Chairman of FCAT was to be a retired judge of a High Court or one qualified to be a Judge of a High Court, FCAT had a more liberal approach towards examination of films and more often than not had overturned the decisions of the CBFC.

There is no doubt that the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a)[i] of the Constitution of India includes within its ambit, expression by way of films. In numerous cases, both the High Courts and Supreme Court have upheld such fundamental right. Therefore, if the objective of introducing age-based sub-categories of U/A classification is to ensure that medium of cinema protect artistic and creative expressions as guaranteed under our Constitution, then an overhaul of the Act in light of the lacunae highlighted above is required and new guidelines under Section 5B(2) of the Act have to be first discussed with the stakeholders from the industry before the same are published by the Central Government for observance by the CBFC.

  1. Validity of certificate issued by the CBFC:

The Bill proposes to increase the validity of the certificate issued under the Act from 10 years to perpetuity under sub-section (3) of Section 5A. This is sure to be a welcome move for the industry as one would not be subjected to the discretion of the new members of the Board, examining committee or the advisory panel, time and again, who hold office at the pleasure of the Central Government and will to an extent provide finality to the certification of a film.

  1. Revisional powers of the Central Government:

The Bill seeks to bring about the following two amendments in sub-section (1) of Section 6 of the Act:

(a) The Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka in K.M. Shankarappa vs. Union of India[ii] struck down as unconstitutional revisional powers of the Central Government as set out in sub-section (1) of Section 6 in respect of films that have already been certified by the CBFC, further holding that such revisional powers of the Central Government can only be in respect of films that are pending certification before the CBFC. This decision of Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka has been upheld[iii] by the Hon’ble Supreme Court where the Hon’ble Supreme Court also observed that ‘To permit the Executive to review and/or revise that decision would amount to interference with the exercise of judicial functions by a quasi-judicial Board………… Thus, Section 6(1) is a travesty of the rule of law which is one of the basic structures of the Constitution.’

In light of the provisions struck down by the Supreme Court over 20 years ago, the Bill now seeks to remove the same from the Act. In essence, the proposed amendments in the Bill will entitle the Central Government to call for records of any proceedings pending before the CBFC and direct the CBFC to dispose of the matter in accordance with the order of the Central Government. It is pertinent to note here that Section 6 in its entirety was proposed to be deleted from the Act vide The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2018 in light of the recommendations of the Shyam Benegal Committee. However, in the Bill in the current form continues to maintain what is dubbed by many as a precensorship right of the Central Government.

(b) The Bill proposes to add a proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 6 of the Act which will empower the Central Government to direct the Chairman of the CBFC to re-examine a film which has already been certified for public exhibition if the Central Government has received any references and if it considers necessary so to do, on account of violation of Section 5B(1) of the Act. The reason given by the Government for adding such a proviso is that the provision of Section 5B(1) are derived from Article 19(2) of the Constitution and are non-negotiable and that the Central Government receives complaints against films that allude to violation of Section 5B(1) of the Act after a film is certified.

If by introducing the new proviso, the Government is looking to align the Act with New IT Rules then it is noteworthy to state here that under New IT Rules, the over-the-top digital platforms have to abide by a self-regulatory code where the content available on their platforms do not need to be passed by a statutory body before it is made publicly available. This is in contrast with the Act where each film is certified by the statutory body, CBFC, for public exhibition.

While one may appreciate the reasonable restrictions set out under Article 19(2) as reproduced in Section 5B(1) of the Act, it is pertinent to note here that under Section 5B(1) of the Act, CBFC already has the power to refuse certification of a film for public exhibition, if in its opinion, the film is violative of the reasonable restrictions in curtailment of freedom of speech and expression contained in Section 5B(1). CBFC, being the official body empowered to implement the Act and whose members are directly chosen by the Central Government albeit without any criteria or qualification expressly stated in the Act or the rules made thereunder, if they do not find a film to trigger any of the events stated in Section 5B(1) and certifies the film for public exhibition, then would it be justified if the Central Government on receipt of complaints or references exercises its revisional power. As the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Union of India vs. K.M. Shankarappa (supra) held that ‘…………….At the highest, the Government may apply to the Tribunal itself for a review, if circumstances so warrant. But the Government would be bound by the ultimate decision of the Tribunal……………….Once an Expert Body has considered the impact of the film on the public and has cleared the film, it is no excuse to say that there may be a law and order situation. It is for the concerned State Government to see that the law and order is maintained. In any democratic society there are bound to be divergent views. Merely because a small section of the society has a different view, from that as taken by the Tribunal, and choose to express their views by unlawful means would be no ground for the Executive to review or revise a decision of the Tribunal. In such a case, the clear duty of the Government is to ensure that law and order is maintained by taking appropriate actions against persons who choose to breach the law.’ Similar views have been taken by the courts in India time and again, including by The Supreme Court in another case of S. Rangarajan and Ors. Vs. P. Jagjevan Ram and Ors[iv] where the exhibition of a film after it was certified by CBFC was banned in the state of Tamil Nadu; the Supreme Court in no uncertain terms held:

47. This takes us to the validity of the plea put forward by the Tamil Nadu Government. In the affidavit filed on behalf of the State Government, it is alleged that some organisations like the Tamil Nadu Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes People’s Protection Committee, Dr. Ambedkar People’s Movement, the Republican Party of India have been agitating that the film should be banned as it hurt the sentiments of people belong to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes. It is stated that the General Secretary of the Republican Party of India has warned that his party would not hesitate to damage the cinema theatres which screen the film. Some demonstration made by people in front of “The Hindu” office on March 16, 1988 and their arrest and release on bail are also referred to. It is further alleged that there were some group meetings by Republican Party members and Dr. Ambedkar People’s Movement with their demand for banning the film. With these averments it was contended for the State that the exhibition of the film will create very serious law and order problem in the State.

48.We are amused yet troubled by the stand taken by the State Government with regard to the film which has received the National Award. We want to put the anguished question, what good is the protection of freedom of expression if the State does not take care to protect it? If the film is unobjectionable and cannot constitutionally be restricted under Article 19(1), freedom of expression cannot be suppressed on account of threat of demonstration and processions or threats of violence. That would tantamount to negation of the rule of law and a surrender to black mail and intimidation. It is the duty of the State to protect the freedom of expression since it is a liberty guaranteed against the State. The State cannot plead its inability to handle the hostile audience problem. It is its obligatory duty to prevent it and protect the freedom of expression.

50. Freedom of expression which is legitimate and constitutionally protected, cannot be held to ransom by an intolerant group of people. The fundamental freedom under Article 19(1)(a) can be reasonably restricted for the purposes mentioned in Article 19(2) and the restriction must be justified on the anvil of necessity and not the quicksand of convenience of expediency. Open criticism of Government policies and operations is not a ground for restricting expression. We must practice tolerance to the views of others. Intolerance is as much dangerous to democracy as to the person himself.

As seen from Section 6(1) of the Act, the Central Government has the power to call for recording of any proceedings of any film pending certification before the Board and direct the Board to adhere to its order with respect to certification of such a film. The Central Government also under Section 5E of the Act has the power to suspend or revoke the certification of any film. The introduction of the new proviso proposed to be introduced by the Bill will not only unduly delay the process of certification, given that the Bill does not provide any mechanism or time-period for the Chairman to dispose of such matter. Nor does it state that if after review, the Chairman of the CBFC is of the opinion that no violation of Section 5B(1) has taken place then can the film continue to have the certification accorded to it earlier by the CBFC or would it be as directed by the Government. However, such provision will also stifle the divergent views that is the hallmark for a vibrant and diverse democracy, such as ours.

In paragraph 14.1 of the report of Justice Mudgal Committee under the guidelines for film certification, it is observed that ‘Cinema is a form of art and by its inherent character, capable of varied forms of representation and consequently myriad forms of interpretation. The courts have over the years attempted to grapple, with little success one might add, to give precise meanings to terms such as morality, obscenity and excessive violence etc. These are concepts which are incapable of surgically precise definitions and interpretation of such terms will vary from person to person.

In the first case in which censorship of films was challenged in the Hon’ble Supreme Court, i.e., in K.A. Abbas vs. Union of India & Ors[v], Chief Justice M. Hidayatullah delivering the judgment on behalf of the coram, while discussing the issues of the guidelines/standards that the CBFC has to follow in certifying a film stated that ‘Our standards must be so framed that we are not reduced to a level where the protection of the least capable and the most depraved amongst us determines what the morally healthy cannot view or read. The standards that we set for our censors must make a substantial allowance in favour of freedom thus leaving a vast area for creative art to interpret life and society with some of its foibles along with what is good……….The requirements of art and literature include within themselves a comprehensive view of social life and not only in its ideal form and the line is to be drawn where the average moral man begins to feel embarrassed or disgusted at a naked portrayal of life without the redeeming touch of art or genius or social value. If the depraved begins to see in these things more than what an average person would, in much the same way, as it is wrongly said, a Frenchman sees a woman’s legs in everything, it cannot be helped.’

If the proviso proposed by the Bill is incorporated in the Act, then there needs to be clear set of guidelines that CBFC is required to follow and which is also made known to the general public. There needs to be a mechanism within the Central Government or concerned Ministry to deal with the complaints or references received by them invoking violation of Section 5B(1) for review by a body of experts before the Chairman of the Board is directed to re-examine the film. There is a need for a time-bound disposition of such complaints or references by the Central Government and the Chairman, because in the absence of any of these safeguards the provision is nothing more than an attempt to control both – the narrative of Indian cinema and what the citizens of this country can watch or not.

  1. Film Piracy:

The Bill seeks to introduce two new sections in an attempt to address release of pirated films on the internet. The reasoning for introducing such sections as stated in paragraph 3(d) of the Notification is that release of pirated films on the internet cause huge losses to the film industry and government exchequer. As in most cases the duplication in cinema halls is the originating point of piracy, there needs to be an enabling provision in the Act to check film piracy. The two sections proposed to be introduced are as follows:

  • Insertion of new section 6AA – Prohibition of unauthorized recording

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 audiovisual recording device in a place 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.

Explanation.- For the purposes of this sub-section, the expression “author” shall have the same meaning as assigned to it in clause (d) of section 2 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

  • Insertion of new sub-section 1A in section 7 – Penalties for contravention of this part

7(1A). If any person contravenes the provisions of section 6AA, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three months but which may extend to three years and with a fine which shall not be less than three lakh rupees but which may extend to 5% of the audited gross production cost or with both.

Provided also that, any act mentioned in Section 52 of the Copyright Act, 1957 (Act 14 of 1957) is not an infringement of the provision of Section 6AA of this Act.

The aforesaid sections proposed to be introduced by the Bill attempt to prohibit the usage of audio-visual recording devices in a place for knowingly making or transmitting audio-visual recordings of films and further seeks to penalise those who contravene the same with imprisonment and fine.

There is no doubt that piracy of films is rampant in India and there is an immediate need to address acts of piracy in such a way that it not only curbs but obliterates such practices. The protection sought to be accorded to films by introducing these sections have their genesis in The Copyright Act, 1957 (“Copyright Act”) – The legislation that provides protection for cinematograph films by setting out the exclusive rights that the author or owner of a cinematograph film is entitled to and also provides for both civil and criminal remedies against infringement of such exclusive rights. It is the principal legislation for vesting of rights in a film that the aforesaid sections of the Bill propose to protect.

Section 6AA of the Bill seeks to prohibit unauthorized audio-visual recording of a film and transmission of such copy of the film or part thereof. This section does not limit itself to audio-visual recordings of a film made in a cinema hall nor does it specify that the transmission of a copy of the film needs to happen on the internet, both of which were the reasons for introducing the said section in the Bill. So, at one hand this provision prohibits unauthorized recording of a film and on the other transmission of the film. A bare perusal of Section 14(d)[vi] of the Copyright Act, which deals with the meaning of ‘copyright’ in the context of cinematograph films, will clarify that the exclusive right to make copies of a film (which includes storing of such copy in any medium by electronic or other means) and to communicate the film to the public is the exclusive right of the owner of copyright. The prohibition that Section 6AA seeks to create is already well-established within the Copyright Act. Further, the usage of the word ‘author’ does not seem to be aligned to the practice in the industry where certain rights for exhibition on certain mediums are exclusively assigned (as opposed to licensed) by the authors and the assignee of such rights then becomes the owner of copyright who is then entitled to exercise those rights to the exclusion of the authors. If the consent of the author is statutorily required to be procured for making and transmitting audio-visual recordings of a film, then the finality to a transaction of assignment may never be reached.

The I&B Ministry in the Standing Committee’s report, when asked about how the proposed provisions in the Bill are different from what is provided under the Copyright Act, has justified that Copyright Act has general provisions classifying the events when copyright is infringed whereas the proposed amendment is specific to offences of piracy in the area of cinematography, and has pleaded that the objective of the Bill is to tackle film piracy by including stringent penal provisions for unauthorised camcording and duplication of films, and that copyright law alone has proved ineffective in tackling the menace of film piracy as the amount of illegal camcording in movie theatres globally, which is considered a primary cause of movie piracy, is increasing and threatens the film industry around the world, as observed by the Standing Committee in paragraph 3 and 4 of Part-II of the report.

Sub-section 1A of Section 7 proposed to be introduced by the Bill makes it a criminal offence if one contravenes the provisions of Section 6AA and makes such offence punishable with imprisonment of not less than 3 months which may extend to 3 years and fine which will not be less than INR 3 lacs and which may extend to 5% of the audited gross production cost. However, the proviso proposed to be added in sub-section 1A of Section 7 creates an exception for violation of Section 6AA by specifying that the acts which do not amount to infringement of copyright under Section 52 of the Copyright Act will not amount to a violation of Section 6AA. This implies that recording may still be permitted, if it is for any of the purposes as set out under Section 52 of the Copyright Act. Therefore, if the intention of the Bill was to prohibit audio-visual recordings all together in any place where a film is exhibited, specifically in a cinema hall, then the proviso to sub-section 1A of Section 7 seems misplaced, as the sole purpose of exhibiting a film in a cinema hall is for the viewing by the viewers and not to legitimise a recording made in a cinema hall. As far as transmission is concerned, the exclusive right to communicate the film to the public or offer for sale or rental any copy of the film is that of the author or owner of copyright under the Copyright Act, and the rights-owner of cinematograph films have judicially, through timely legal intervention, have sought John Doe orders (a.k.a. Ashok Kumar orders) against transmissions proposed to be prohibited by Section 6AA.

The effect of such Section 6AA and sub-section 1A of Section 7, if enacted as law, would be that an aggrieved person will have the remedy under two legislations, the Act and the Copyright Act, and would force us to look at an enactment from over 120 years ago, i.e., The General Clauses Act, 1897, to lend interpretation as to which of these legislations will be applicable to prosecute an offender. It is pertinent to note the dissonance between the Bill and the Copyright Act which continues to provide for lesser penalty for the same offence than what is proposed in the Bill. Further, the Bill is short of other important provisions that may serve to implement the provisions of the Bill such as those included in Sections 64 and 65 of the Copyright Act, either by amending the existing Section 7A of the Act or by introducing new sections. It is also pertinent to note here that the Standing Committee’s report which is fraught with the Government’s suggestions to criminalize piracy under the Act was submitted in March, 2020 and soon thereafter in June, 2020 the Government of India sought feedback on decriminalizing offences under the Copyright Act. It would be unfair if the offences under the Copyright Act are decriminalized which covers various works such as literary, musical, artistic and dramatic works and sound recordings along with cinematograph films, and if only rights comprised in a cinematograph films under the Copyright Act had criminal sanctions under the Act. The Government on the other hand should have sought to introduce a new chapter on piracy in the principal legislation where rights in the films covered under the Act emanate from, i.e. the Copyright Act, and should have treated the offence of piracy vis-à-vis all works covered under the Act on the same pedestal. Moreover, the introduction of Section 6AA and sub-section 1A of Section 7 in the Bill seems misplaced as the preamble of the Act, as well as its historic context, manifest that the purpose of the Act is certification of cinematograph films for exhibition and not to trample upon or provide for remedies for infringement of rights vesting in cinematograph films under the Copyright Act.

One may ask why only camcording is being targeted by this legislation when the pirated copies also originate from the leak of high-quality preview copies or ‘screeners’ by hackers and from those within the industry. One may also ask why would sound recordings or literary novels not deserve the same level of protection that is accorded to cinematograph films, when both these industries are suffering equally if not more because of piracy. One may also ask when most of the uploads of the pirated films originate from outside India and given the territorial application of the Act, how would the provisions of the Bill curb such practices. A more holistic understanding and a set of measures on the part of the Government and industry are required if any substantial outcome is expected to curb and decimate such practices which includes ways of dismantling the financial ecosystem that supports piracy such as ad-supported pirate websites, entering into reciprocal agreements with different jurisdictions to combat piracy, changing business models and regulatory impediments that make consuming content more expensive, aligning the anti-piracy approach taken by various States in India and most importantly addressing piracy with respect to different works and different mediums in the Copyright Act.

The Bill in its current form is devoid of the very essence of many important recommendations made by Justice Mudgal Committee and Shyam Benegal Committee and decades of judicial pronouncements upholding the freedom of speech and expression in terms of films and providing finality to the certification provided by the CBFC. The Bill if enacted as law is likely to vex more than placate the stakeholders in the industry.

The last date to provide comments to the I&B Ministry on the Bill is July 2, 2021 which can be submitted on the email address provided in the Notification.

End notes:

[i] “Article 19(1): All citizens shall have the right: (a) to freedom of speech and expression;”

[ii] ILR 1990 KARNATAKA 4082

[iii] Appeal (civil) 3106 of 1991 or MANU/SC/0726/2000

[iv] (1989)2SCC574

[v] AIR1971SC481

[vi] “14(1) …… (d) in the case of a cinematograph film,—

(i) to make a copy of the film, including—

(A) a photograph of any image forming part thereof; or

  • (B) storing of it in any medium by electronic or other means;

(ii) to sell or give on commercial rental or offer for sale or for such rental, any copy of the film;

(iii) to communicate the film to the public;”

Image source: here

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