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Censor board Chief Pahlaj Nihalani faces calls for sack, sparks row over money deal (analysed from The Indian Express and The Hindu editorial, relevant for Prelims, GS II, Topic: CBFC, Freedom of speech, censorship)

Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani today faced heat on multiple fronts in the escalating row over “Udta Punjab” with demands for his sacking including over his allegation that its maker Anurag Kashyap may have taken money from AAP to make the drug-themed Bollywood film.

The film fraternity supported Kashyap in the censorship row with superstar Amitabh Bachchan saying creativity should not be killed, the producers moved the Bombay High Court seeking a copy of the order passed by Censor Board’s Review Committee suggesting “13 changes” and removing reference to Punjab in the film. 

The Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Diljit Dosanjh starrer movie potrays how the youth in Punjab have succumbed to drugs is slated for release on June 17.

AAP Chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that Nihalani’s statement makes it amply clear that he has stopped the film on “BJP’s instructions”.

BJP rejected the allegation.

Information and Broadcasting ministry officials asserted that the certification process is independent and even court verdicts have made it clear that the government does not have much role in it.

About CBFC:

Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)  is a Statutory body under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,  regulating the public exhibition of films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952.

Films can be publicly exhibited in India only after they have been certified by the Central Board of Film Certification.
 
The Board, consists of non-official members and a Chairman (all of whom are appointed by Central Government) and functions with headquarters at Mumbai. It has nine Regional offices.

At present films are certified under 4 categories:

1.    U- Unrestricted Public Exhibition    

2.    UA- Unrestricted Public Exhibition – but with a word of caution that Parental discretion required for children below 12 years

3.    A-  Restricted to adults

4.    S- Restricted to any special class of persons

Freedom of speech and expression and cinema:

1.    India has a free press and the same freedom applies to cinema, which is free enterprise. However, neither cinema nor press is separately listed in the Constitution, although freedom of speech is a constitutional right under Article 19(1)(a) which says that all persons shall have “freedom of speech and expression”. 

2.    The freedom of expression is interpreted as the right to express one’s opinion by word of mouth, writing, printing, picture or any other manner, including movies.

3.    But this right is subject to “reasonable restriction” on grounds set out under Article 19(2) of the Constitution. The reasonable restrictions can be put in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

Why is Film Certification Necessary?
 

While there is no certification of published material, need was felt to have certification for films because of the effect that the audio-visual medium can have on the people which can be far stronger than the influence of the printed word, particularly on the impressionable minds of the children.



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