With an object of further amending the Cinematograph Act, 1952, an amendment to the Act was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on the 20th Day of July, 2023. Through this Act, various changes have been brought in to make modifications or additions in the certification mechanisms of films along with constituting a Board of Film Certification which shall certify the films fit for exhibition along with allowing/refusing the screening of films.
The Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 20th July, 2023 which was passed by Rajya Sabha on 27th July, 2023 and thereafter by Lok Sabha on 31st July, 2023.
There have been various additions/amendments that have been brought through the bill which are as follows:
- Perpetual Validity to Certificates: The Act has made the certificates obtained from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) perpetually valid which has led to overruling of the earlier rules which restricted the validity of the certificates to 10 years only.
- Distinct certification for television and other media: As per the amendment to Section 4 of the Cinematography Act, 1952 there has been a requirement for separate certification laid down for screening films on television having “A” or “S” category. The board also possesses the power to direct the applicants to make necessary modifications in the scenes of the movie.
- Creation of new categories for certifications: The amendment has also brought in various new categories for film certification based on age groups. For instance, in addition to the without restriction (U) category, parental guidance (U/A) category, only adult (A) category, the new categories that have been introduced are:
- UA 7+ for children above 7 years who require parental guidance.
- UA 13+ for children above 13 years who require parental guidance.
- UA 16+ for children 16 years to 18 years who require parental guidance.
- Inherent Powers to the Central Government: The 1952 Act had vested the inherent revisional powers in relation to the certification of films with the Central Government who may intervene in the screening of films. However, the bill removes this power.
- Prohibition on the unlawful recording of movies: Insertion of Section 6AA and 6AB in the bill after Section 6 of the Act, any act of recording or abetting to record or unlawful exhibition of films has been made a punishable offence. The unlawful exhibition of the films also covers within its ambit the screening of films at any location not authorized or licensed to exhibit the films or any other manner which is in contravention of the copyright laws. However, the exceptions under the Copyright Act of 1957 shall also be applicable to the same and shall not constitute an offence under the amendment. The imprisonment for any contravention may range between 3 months and 3 years and a fine of Rs. 3,00,000/- or 5% of the audited gross production cost.
The amendment to the Act is one of the necessary and appreciated steps that the government has taken in order to meet the demands of the changing society and the commercial cinematography sector. This Act will comprehensively curb the menace of piracy and protect the rights of the Film Makers. With changing certification requirements to perpetual validity, the amended Act is expected to result in making a more inclusive and regulated cinema framework which shall have an increased level of suitability and relevance in the Indian Film Industry. The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 has now been passed and enacted with effect from 04th August 2023.