How & Why Censor Board make film Cuts? , Know the Law & Procedure

India has the largest film industry in the world, making over 1250 feature films and larger number of short films every year. At a rough estimate, a total of about 15 million people see films in India every day, either at its over 13,000 cinema houses or on the video cassette recorder or on the cable system. Thus, every two months, an audience as large as India ’s entire population flocks to its cinema houses.

While the media in our country are free, it is considered necessary in the general interest to examine the product when it goes out for public consumption. 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.
Here’s the Certificate Cuts Cetificates of recent released films, You can go through them and can imagine how much Censor Board have played its role in making films sensible and appropriate for public of India.

This one has crossed heights of abuses, but thanks to Censor Board for the work done below:


Film certification is thus the end product of the process of previewing of film and it includes a decision either not to allow a particular film or public viewing or to allow it for public viewing with certain deletions and / or modifications or at least proper categorization of the films. Furthermore, it is to ensure that the children do not get exposed to psychologically damaging matter.
The Supreme Court in a judgment in 1989 said that film certification becomes necessary because a film motivates thought and action and assures a high degree of attention and retention as compared to the printed words. The combination of act and speech, sight and sound in semi-darkness of the theatre with elimination of all distracting ideas will have a strong impact on the minds of the viewers and can affect emotions. Therefore, it has as much potential for evil as it has for good and has an equal potential to instill or cultivate violent or good behavior. It cannot be equated with other modes of communication. Certification by prior restraint is, therefore, not only desirable but also necessary.
The present certification of films is governed by the 1952 Act, the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules promulgated in 1983 and the Guidelines issued there under from time to time, the latest having been issued on December 6, 1991. The Guidelines are issued under section 5B of the Act, which says that “a film shall not be certified for public exhibition, if, in the opinion of the authority competent to grant the certificate, the film or any part of it is against the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the States, friendly relations with foreign State, public order, decency or morality or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite the commission of any offence”.
Who does Film Certification?
The CBFC or the Central Board of Film Certification (known till June 1, 1983 as the Central Board of Film Censors) was set up in Mumbai, initially with regional offices at Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta on 15.1.1951. At present there are nine such offices located at Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta , Bangalore , Hyderabad , Thiruvananthapuram, Delhi , Cuttack and Guwahati. Then there is a Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) which has been constituted under section 5D of the 1952 Act for hearing appeals against any order of the CBFC. This tribunal is based in New Delhi.
  • While the work of certification of films is a Central subject, the States have to enforce the penal provisions of the 1952 Act and bring the offenders to book.
  • The organizational structure of the CBFC is based on the provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983. The Board consists of a Chairperson and not less than twelve and not more than twenty-five other members appointed by the Central Government. They are appointed for a period not exceeding three years. They are eminent persons from different walks of life such as social sciences, law, education, art, film and so on, thus representing a cross-section of society.
  •  The CBFC is assisted by advisory panels in the regional offices each of which is headed by a regional officer and the members of these panels are also representative of a cross-section of society and interests. These members will hold office for a period not exceeding two years. However, members can be re-appointed.
  •  The CBFC has divided itself into Examining and Revising Committees to provide a two-tier jury system for certification of films. In the event of a difference of opinion in the Examining Committee or the applicant not being satisfied with the decision of the Examining Committee, the Chairperson can refer the film to a Revising Committee.
  •  The Certification rules also apply to foreign films imported into India , dubbed films and video films. In the case of dubbed films, the CBFC does not have any fresh certification for the visual in general cases. The certification does not apply to films made specifically for Doorsdarshan, since Doordarshan programmes have been exempted from the certification provisions and Doordarshan has its own system of examining such films.


What the Government is doing to Ensure Cleaner Films?
  • India today has more than 13,000 cinema halls spread over the length and breadth of her territory. Furthermore, there are lakhs of video libraries and video parlours in the country. Obviously, it is a very difficult task for the official machinery to check any violations of the film certification provisions. The citizen will have to step in more actively if he has to ensure that he gets wholesome and clean entertainment that does not violate his norms of decency.
  •  On its own, the Government has form time to time been alerting the State Governments and Union Territory Administration about the problem and urging them to take action. They have been asked to give greater priority to incidents of interpolations and exhibition of uncertified films.
  •  The law has laid down clear rules for dealing with this problem and has also strengthened the penal provisions.
  •  Under section 5E of the 1952 Act, the Central Government can suspend a certificate granted to any film for a fixed period or even revoke it if the film is being shown in a form other than the one in which it was certified. The applicant of the certificate will have a right to appeal / review of the order under section 5F .
Penalties for Violations
  • Offences with regard to violations of certification provisions are cognizable. Furthermore, they are non-bailable.
  • Section 7 of the 1952 Act provides that if there is violation of certification provisions or if there are interpolations or tampering of certified films or if non-certified films are exhibited, or where films meant for adult audience are shown to non-adults or where an “S” certificate film is shown to persons other than those for whom it is meant, then penalties specified therein can be imposed. Penalty can also be imposed for failure to comply with section 6A which required that any person delivering a film to an exhibitor or a distributor will also give to him details of all cuts, certification, title, length and conditions of certification.
  • Under section 7, a person guilty of violation is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine which may extend to Rs. 1 lakh or with both, and with a further fine upto Rs. 20,000/- for each day for a continuing offence.
  • Showing of video films which violate the rules in the manner prescribed in this section will attract imprisonment of not less than three months but which may extend to three years and a fine of not less than Rs. 20,000/- but which may extend to Rs. 1 lakh and a further upto Rs. 20,000/- for each day for a continuing offence.
  • Furthermore, the trial court can direct that the offending film be forfeited to the Government. Under section 7A, any police officer can enter a hall where an offending film is being screened, search the premises and seized the print.

Every country has its own rating system. The Indian board (CBFC) has the below rating systems :

  • U: Unrestricted public exhibition
  • A: Adults only (above the age of 18)
  • U / A: Mostly unrestricted with a few scenes requiring parental guidance
  • S: Restricted to a special class of people

So if next time you are offended by anything projected on the large screen, do not walk out but kindly act, since your action may safeguard the morals of your fellow citizens and protect the children of this country.

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