'State Govts can’t order suspension of films': Justice Mukul Mudgal on draft Cinematograph Bill 2013

The Empowered Committee on film certification chaired by Justice Mukul Mudgal has mandated that no State government can order the suspension of a film.
As per the draft Cinematograph Bill, 2013 which suggest changes in the Cinematograph Act 1952:

  • Only the Central government can suspend the screening of a film after it has been certified by the Censor Board.
  • The Central government can only invoke this clause only after a show-cause notice has been given in writing to the film-maker setting out the grounds for proposing such a move and giving him/her reasonable opportunity to respond.
  • Entry 60 of List I of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution categorically places legislation relating to sanction of film for exhibition in the domain of the Central government. Further, the specific language of Entry 33 of List-II of the same Schedule provides that this entry is subject to the provisions of Entry 60.
  • The internationally prevalent practice of classification of films for age-related classifications and certifications must be accepted. As against the current practise of ‘U’, ‘U/A’ and ‘A’ certification, the Committee has proposed to break-up ‘U/A’ by age to ‘12+’ and ‘15+’ while retaining ‘U’ and ‘A’. The ‘S’ classification for restricted circulation has been retained.
  • It also reviews certain definitions mentioned in the Cinematograph Act, 1952, to keep pace with the sea of changes in film-making.
  • The word ‘film’ under the will not be confined to the “moving picture content of the film” but will include songs and lyrics of the song. This has been done, in particular, to address the issue of ‘item songs’ has drawn considerable ire.
Why did the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting set up Mudgal Committee?

Earlier this year, the Information & Broadcasting Ministry set up the Mudgal panel after the government felt the need to update the Cinematograph Act, 1952 in the wake of the controversy over Tamil Nadu’s ban on Vishwaroopam. Other such film-ban instances happened with films like Aarakshan and Madras Café which ran into trouble in some States. Questions were raised over the decision of a particular State to invoke the law and ban the release of a certain movie, notwithstanding that the Supreme Court in the Aarakshan case had held that once a film was certified for viewing, the fig leaf of law and order could not be allowed to stand in the way.



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