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Wednesday, 22 September 2021 7.16 PM IST

Centre seeks public comments on draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill by July 2

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NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday sought public comments on the draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021 which proposes to penalise film piracy with jail term and fine, introduce age-based certification, and empower the central government to order recertification of an already certified film following receipt of complaints.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has asked the general public to send their comments on the draft bill by July 2.

"The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting proposes to introduce the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which will make the process of sanctioning of films for exhibition more effective, in tune with the changed times and curb the menace of piracy," according to a notification.

Among the proposed changes, the ministry said the provisions relating to certification of films under 'unrestricted public exhibition' category are proposed to be amended so as to further sub-divide the existing UA category into age-based categories such as U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+.

It said that the draft adds a provision to grant revisionary powers to the government on account of violation of Section 5B (1) (principles for guidance in certifying films) of the Act.

"Since the provisions of Section 5B(1) are derived from Article 19(2) of the Constitution and are non-negotiable, it is also proposed in the Draft Bill to add a proviso to sub-section (1) of section 6 to the effect that on receipt of any references by the Central Government in respect of a film certified for public exhibition, on account of violation of Section 5B(1) of the Act, the Central Government may, if it considers it necessary so to do, direct the Chairman of the Board to re-examine the film,” it said.

The ministry, while adding a provision to penalise film piracy, said release of pirated versions of films on the internet, causes huge losses to the film industry and government exchequer.

"In most cases, illegal duplication in cinema halls is the originating point of piracy. At present, there are no enabling provisions to check film piracy in the Cinematograph Act, 1952 making it necessary to have a provision in the Act to check film piracy,” it said.

The draft bill proposes to insert section 6AA which prohibits unauthorised recording.

According to Section 6AA, “Notwithstanding any law for the time being in force, no person shall, without the written authorization of the author, be permitted to use any audiovisual recording device in a place to knowingly make or transmit or attempt to make or transmit or abet the making or transmission of a copy of a film or a part thereof."

It said that if any person contravenes the provisions of section 6AA, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term “which shall not be less than three months but which may extend to three years and with a fine which shall not be less than Rs three lakh but which may extend to 5 percent of the audited gross production cost or with both.”

To tackle the menace of film piracy, the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Rajya Sabha on February 12, 2019 after getting the Cabinet approval on February 6, 2019, wherein it was proposed to insert a new section 6AA and a new sub-section (1A) in Section 7 of the Act.

The Standing Committee on Information Technology (2019-20) presented the Ninth Report on Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on March 16, 2020. The observations and recommendations made by the committee in the report have been examined and it is proposed to suitably revise the clauses in the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 based on the recommendations.

An expert committee under the chairmanship of Justice (retired) Mukul Mudgal was constituted in 2013 to examine the issues of certification under the Cinematograph Act, 1952.

Another committee of experts was set up under the chairmanship of Shyam Benegal in 2016 to evolve broad guidelines for certification within the ambit of the Cinematograph Act and Rules.

The recommendations made by both the committees have been examined in the ministry and efforts have been made to consider all the relevant issues through internal reviews of the Act in consultation with various stakeholders, the ministry said.

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