TN CM opposes amendment to Cinematograph Act, demands its withdrawal

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Eds: Adds details Chennai, Jul 6 (PTI) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Tuesday opposed the Draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021, saying the proposed 'amendment itself is against the spirit of promoting rightful thinking in civil society,' and demanded its withdrawal.

Curbing the creative thinking of the film fraternity and imposing conditions on them on how films are to be made are 'totally unjustified,' he said in a letter to Union Minister of Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The chief minister also wrote to Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on the matter.

Stalin took up the matter with the ministers a day after a delegation of the state's film industry representatives, including from the Tamil Film Producers' Council, called on him and urged to flag the matter with the Centre.

'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,' Stalin said.

A vibrant democracy must provide adequate space for creative thinking and artistic freedom, he added.

However, the proposed amendment to the Cinematograph Act seeks to restrict it by restoring the revisionary powers of the union government that was struck down by the Supreme Court two decades ago, he said.

'I wish to reiterate that 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,' Stalin said.

There were certain provisions which have practical difficulties in implementation like the age-wise grouping of the certification under three categories.

Stalin pointed out that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) accords certification to movies if they meet all the criteria mentioned in section 5(a) of the Act.

The Act also provides for rejection of certification for a film on certain prescribed valid grounds.

Moreover, adequate provisions for exercising control over the film making is available in the form of guidelines.

'Given all these, it is considered as excessive to add more laws and acts to throttle the freedom of a creative form in the 21st century,' Stalin said.

Following the prescribed guidelines and procedures, if a film is certified for public viewing by the CBFC, it falls within the domain of the state governments first and hence, it must be left to them as Law and order is a state subject, he argued.

'But now, the Union Government, by the proposed Act tries to go against the spirit of cooperative federalism and transgress the powers of the state governments and its own Central Board of Film Certification,' he said.

'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 where creative thinking, that includes art, culture and film making, blossom without fear or favour,' Stalin urged. PTI SA BN BALA BN BALA

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