CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Tuesday wrote a letter to Union Minister for Law and Justice, Communication, Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad urging him to withdraw the proposed draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 following apprehensions raised by the Tamil film industry.
In his letter, Stalin said, “The draft bill has given rise to serious apprehensions not only in the minds of the film fraternity and film industry but also among all well-meaning sections of society that cherish freedom of expression.”
Highlighting the expected impact of the bill, he said that a vibrant democracy must provide adequate space for creative thinking and artistic freedom. However, the proposed amendment to the Cinematograph Act seeks to restrict it by restoring the revisionary powers of the Union government that were struck down by the Supreme Court two decades ago.
Stalin said that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) accords certification to films if they meet all the criteria mentioned in section 5(a) of the Cinematograph Act. The Act also provides for rejection of certification for a film on certain prescribed valid grounds. Moreover, adequate provisions for exercising control over filmmaking are available in the form of guidelines that have been provided under section 5(b) of the Act.
Elaborating on the new powers given to the Union government in the proposed bill, he said that if a film is certified for public viewing by the CBFC, it falls within the domain of the state governments first and hence, it must be left to the states as law and order is a state subject. But now, the Union government, by the proposed Act, is trying to go against the spirit of cooperative federalism and transgress the powers of the state governments and its own CBFC. Incidentally, as a prelude to this amendment, the Film Certification Appellate Board which was functioning as an appellate body against the CBFC was dismantled.
Considering the concerns raised by the film fraternity and various sections of society across India, he urged the government to withdraw the proposed amendment to the Cinematograph Act 1952 and also allow functional autonomy of the CBFC to remain a progressive nation where creative thinking, including art, culture and filmmaking, can blossom without fear or favour.