Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has written to Union Ministers of Law and Justice, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, and Information and Broadcasting requesting to withdraw the proposed amendment to Cinematograph Act, 1952.

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 the society that cherish freedom of expression. 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 Centre that was struck down by the Supreme Court two decades ago, Stalin said in the letter.

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If a film is certified for public viewing by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), it falls within the domain of the State Governments first and hence, it must be left to the States as the law and order is a State subject. But now, the Centre, through 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.

Against ideals of Constitution

The draft amendment restoring the revisional power to the Centre after it is certified by the CBFC is a misuse of 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.

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 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.

“Considering the above points and genuine concerns raised by the film fraternity and various sections of the society across India, I urge you to withdraw the proposed Amendment to Cinematograph Act 1952 and also allow for functional autonomy of the CBFC, so that we remain as a progressive nation, and where creative thinking, that includes art, culture and film making, blossom without fear or favour,” the letter said.

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