A committee of experts has been constituted to examine issues concerning film certification under the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
With Justice Mukul Mudgal, retired Chief Justice of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana as its Chairperson, the committee will have eight members.
The terms of reference of the committee would include reviewing the mandate and functioning of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and recommending measures, including statutory changes to enable the board to deal with contemporary requirements of certification and increased transparency/efficiency. Such issues may include process of certification, including the mechanism followed by the Examining and Revising Committees; categories of certification, existing and proposed, under the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2013 and requirement of special categories of certification for broadcasting and telecasting.
The office memorandum of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, dated February 4, was produced before a Division Bench of the Madras High Court comprising Justices R. Banumathi and K.K. Sasidharan when a writ petition by Abdul Rahim seeking a direction to the Centre and the CBFC to consider his representation dated November 22 last year and withdraw the ‘U’ certificate issued for the Vijay-starrer ‘Thuppakki’, came up for fresh hearing.
On January 30, the Bench had recalled its order on the petition relating to the remedy available to an aggrieved third party against the CBFC with regard to the film. The petitioner had said the film depicted Muslims as terrorists.
This would promote ill-feeling among different communities and would result in forming an adverse opinion against Muslims as a whole.
In the January order, the Bench had directed the Centre to treat a representation by Mr. Rahim as a revision petition under Section 6 (1) of the Cinematograph Act and dispose of the same on merits and as per law by March 31.
On a later date, the Bench said when it was issuing the direction, it was not brought to its notice that the Supreme Court in a case had already declared Section 6 (1) as unconstitutional on account of the formation of an Appellate Tribunal under Section 5-D of the Act. Hence, the Bench recalled its order and said that the writ petition required a fresh consideration. Accordingly, the matter came up for hearing on Friday.
As per the I and B Ministry’s office memorandum, the panel’s terms of reference would also include reviewing the mandate and functioning of the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) in order to make it a more efficacious appellate body, the power of the State governments to intervene after the CBFC had granted its certificate for a film, and suggest more effective legal remedies and penal provisions in the Act.
The Bench adjourned the matter for further hearing after the summer vacation.