Plea against pre-censorship of films

Changing times: The petition by Amol Palekar argues that pre-censorship of films is irrelevant in the Internet era.

Changing times: The petition by Amol Palekar argues that pre-censorship of films is irrelevant in the Internet era.  

Violation of right to freedom of speech and expression of film-makers and public, Palekar tells SC

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to respond on a petition filed by cine veteran Amol Palekar that pre-censorship of films is a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression of both film-makers and the public.

Benegal panel

A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked the government and the Censor Board to respond to Mr. Palekar’s call to act on a recommendation made by a panel led by film-maker Shyam Benegal that the Censor Board’s role should be confined to film certification alone.

“The petitioner is challenging the provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983 which in turn imposes pre-censorship on the freedom of speech and expression of the artistes as well as the audience,” the petition contended. “The petitioner is aggrieved by the provisions granting the power of ordering cuts, deletions, alterations in a film along with the abuse of power while exercising the powers given by the said Act and Rules while certifying and/or denying certification to any applicant film,” it said.

Rules need to change

The petition said pre-censorship of films was irrelevant in the Internet era. Mr. Palekar argued that the social fabric and means of communication have undergone a sea change since the Supreme Court passed an order in 1970, apparently validating censorship in films on the ground that cinema was the most influential media of mass communication.

“Rules have to change for the present day when Internet and social media dominate... When content on television and Internet is free of censorship, the same content being altered, cut or deleted before being shown in a cinema hall is an attack on our right to equality,” the petition said.

“Today modern technology makes dissemination of information available in real time through a variety of media, many of which are either not regulated or if regulated, not subjected to pre-censorship,” Mr. Palekar said.

“Absence of a member with a legal background in the CBFC often leads the board to repeatedly violate film-makers’ fundamental right to speech and expression,” the petition said.

(With PTI inputs)

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 11:40:40 PM |

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