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Recommendations on the Draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Cinematograph depicting policy recommendations submitted by AnantLaw to Government of India on amendment to cinematograph act

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (“MIB”) has undertaken the admirable initiative of bringing much needed and critical amendments to the currently existing Cinematograph Act, 1952 (“Cinematograph Act”) vide the Draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (“Draft Bill”) released to the public on June 18, 2021.

The Cinema industry in India has undergone rapid changes ever since its inception and more so in the recent past, owing to revolutionary changes in technology. Among other things. Laws pertaining to regulation of cinematography and public exhibition were first enacted in 1918 through the Cinematograph Act of 1918 (“1918 Act”). This primarily aimed at censorship of content to be exhibited publicly. Under the 1918 Act, cinematograph films were regulated provincially, which was later amended to a central form of regulation.

Sanctioning of cinematograph films for exhibition falls under item 60 of List I (the Union List) of 7th Schedule of the Constitution of India, while item 33 in List II (the State List) deals with theatres and dramatic performance of cinemas, subject to the regulation under item 60 of the Union List. Owing to the subject matter of cinematograph films being under both – the State and the Union List, there arose many discrepancies in the overall regulation of cinematograph films in India, under the 1918 Act. In 1952, the Cinematograph Act was enacted to bring under a central law, twin aspects of regulation of cinematograph films, being: (a) examination and certification of films for public exhibition and (b) regulation of cinemas including their licensing.

The Draft Bill seeks to address certain longstanding issues of concern to the film industry in India. The Draft Bill addresses the following key concerns:

  • Creation of age-based certification of films for educated content segregation

  • Powers of the Central Government to re-certify cinematograph films

  • Anti-piracy measures and penalties for their contravention

We submit our views and observations on the Draft Bill through the present recommendations (“Our Comments”).

Our Comments on the Draft Bill are structured in two parts. In PART A, we examine the existing framework for censorship, certification of films and powers of the Central Government in India and certain foreign jurisdictions. In PART B, we encapsulate our recommendations on the provisions of the Draft Bill.

290721 AL PR - Cinematography
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