Veteran Bollywood actor and filmmaker Amol Palekar has filed a plea with the Supreme Court challenging pre-censorship of films by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The apex court has sought a response from the central government and the CBFC on the plea.
A bench of justice A K Sikri and justice Ashok Bhushan sought a response as the veteran contended that in the age of internet and social media, the existing set of rules providing for pre-censorship of films have to undergo change.
Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for Palekar, sought action on the report of a committee headed by legendary filmmaker Shyam Benegal which, among other things, had suggested that the censor board’s role should be confined to certifying films.
“The petitioner is challenging the provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983 which in turn imposes pre-censorship on the freedom of speech and expression of the artistes as well as the audience,” Subramaniam told the court.
“The petitioner is aggrieved by the provisions granting the power of ordering cuts, deletions, alterations in a film along with the abuse of power while exercising the powers given by the said Act and Rules while certifying and/or denying certification to any applicant film,” he said.
Seeking a revamp of the Cinematography Act, 1952 and the censor board, Palekar, in his petition, said the contents uploaded on social media are free from pre-censorship but those very things attract alternation, deletion or cuts when it comes to films.
“When content on television and internet is free of censorship, the same content being altered, cut or deleted before being shown in a cinema hall is an attack on our right to equality,” the petition said, calling for a change in rules in the present day.
“Today modern technology makes dissemination of information available in real time through a variety of media, many of which are either not regulated or if regulated, not subjected to pre-censorship,” Palekar said.
He also noted that the absence of a a member with a legal background in CBFC often led to repeated violation of filmmakers’ fundamental right to speech and expression.
The SC notice garnered a lot of attention, as fans and the film industry voiced support.
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