Actor-politician Kamal Haasan has joined the campaign against the proposed Cinematograph Act 2021, which gives the Centre powers to override the film certification board and "re-examine" films it has cleared. Coming on the heels of the scrapping of the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal - where appeals could be made against the decision of the certification board - it has upset many filmmakers, who question the fallout of the amended law.
Tweeting, Kamal Haasan - one of most prominent actors and film-makers from south India - said, "Cinema, media and the literati can't afford to be the three iconic monkeys of India. Please act, voice your concern for freedom and liberty".
Cinema, media and the literati cannot afford to be the three iconic monkeys of India. Seeing, hearing and speaking of impending evil is the only medication against attempts to injure and debilitate democracy. (1/2)— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) June 28, 2021
The proposed amendments to the Cinematograph Act of 1952 will give the Centre "revisionary powers" and enable it to "re-examine" films that have already been cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification.
This has raised concern among many film-makers, who contend that the amended law will give the Centre powers that might threaten freedom of expression - a constitutional right in the country.
Last week, the Centre released the draft bill and sought comments from the people, which will be accepted till July 2. The dissenting film-makers have drafted a response, reports said.
The government's notification said the draft bill adds a provision to grant revisionary powers to the government on account of violation of Section 5B (1) - which deals with principles for guidance in certifying films -- of the 1952 Act.
"Since the provisions of Section 5B(1) are derived from Article 19(2) of the Constitution that authorises the government to impose, reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech and expression in the interest of public order 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," the notification read.