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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Tamil Nadu CM Stalin urges Centre to withdraw Cinematograph Act

Stalin’s letter said the proposed Draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021, “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 the society that cherish freedom of expression.”

By: Express News Service | Chennai |
Updated: July 6, 2021 2:10:58 pm
Tamil Nadu Film Producers Association submitting the petition to Chief Minister MK Stalin on Monday.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Tuesday wrote a letter to Union Law Minister to withdraw the proposed amendment to Cinematograph Act, 1952. His letter to the Centre came a day after the Tamil Nadu Film Producers Association met him seeking his intervention in the issue.

Stalin’s letter said the proposed Draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021, “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 the society that cherish freedom of expression.”

The letter said the proposed amendment to the act seeks to restrict it by restoring the revisionary powers of the union government that was struck down by the Supreme Court two decades ago. “The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) accords certification to the films if they meet all the criteria mentioned in the section 5(a) of the Cinematograph Act. The Act also provides for rejection of certification for a film on certain prescribed valid grounds,” Stalin wrote.

Stating that adding more laws and acts are seen as efforts to throttle the freedom of a creative form in the 21st Century, the letter reminded that “adequate provisions for exercising control over the filmmaking is available in the form of guidelines that have been provided under section 5(b) of the Act.”

Against the present guidelines and procedures in which a film is certified for public viewing by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which falls within the domain of the State governments, the letter said the proposed amendments tries 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,” the letter said.

Stalin said the draft amendment restoring the “revisional power” to the Centre after it is certified by the CBFC is a misuse of the “reasonable restriction” clause under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India and “this draft amendment itself is against the spirit of promoting rightful thinking in Civil Society.”

“Curbing the creative thinking of the film fraternity and imposing conditions on them on how films are to be made are totally unjustified and in fact, it is quite opposite to the very ideals of our constitution. Taking away the right to freedom of thought will only weaken our democracy – which has to be vibrant always irrespective of the parties in power,” the letter said.

The letter also reminded that there are certain provisions which have practical difficulties in implementation like the age-wise grouping of the certification under three categories and certain amendments that make the film making a very risky and uncertain industry like the provision enabling the Union Government to direct the Chairman of the CBFC to re-examine a film after certification.

The letter urged the union minister of Law and Justice, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, to withdraw the proposed amendment to Cinematograph Act 1952 and allow for functional autonomy of the CBFC.

Many actors and technicians from the Tamil film Industry including Suriya, Vishal, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Karthik Subburaj have expressed their dissent over the draft law.

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