The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology on Tuesday questioned the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting about the proposed amendments to the Cinematograph Act, The Hindu reported.
One of the amendments to the Cinematograph Act empowers the government to order the re-examination of a film already cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification. Critics have said the proposed change was the government’s attempt to create a “super censor”.
Members of the Congress MP Shashi Tharoor-led parliamentary committee asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to explain why such a provision was going to be introduced in the Cinematograph Act, an unidentified official told The Hindu.
The parliamentary panel’s members also cited a 2000 Supreme Court order, which noted that the Centre could not have revisional powers over films already cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification, the newspaper reported.
The Information and Broadcasting ministry has, however, told the committee that the central government would only invoke the “super censorship” clause in case a film had an impact on national security and integrity.
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“They [central officials] claimed that the bill has been misunderstood and that the ministry itself will have no powers to censor any film,” an unidentified member of the parliamentary committee told The Hindu. “The bill only allows the ministry to return the film for re-certification.”
The Information and Broadcasting ministry also told the panel that the Central Board of Film Certification would take the final decisions related to a film, according to the Hindustan Times.
But the members of the parliamentary committee said they were not satisfied with the central government’s explanations.
“If any person or group feels that a film or part of it hurts their sentiment or imperils the country, they can go to court,” a member of the parliamentary panel said, according to The Hindu. “Our basic question was why should this power to adjudicate be vested with a bureaucrat.”
On June 18, the Information and Broadcasting ministry had asked citizens to submit comments on the draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021, by July 2.
Filmmakers, academicians, and students drafted a set of suggestions in response to the Centre. The group said that the amendments would leave filmmakers “powerless at the hands of the state as more vulnerable to threats, vandalism, and intimidation of mob censors”.