October 2, 2022

BRIEF OF CINEMATOGRAPH ACT 1952

COMPOSITION 
Official nameThe Cinematograph Act, 1952.
ACT NO.ACT NO. 37 OF 1957
passed on21st March, 1952.
DATE OF COMMENCEMENT. 28th July, 1952,
  sections and parts18 Section, 4 Parts
repealSection 6B omitted and Part IV of the act repealed.
amendment1959, 1960, 1973, 1983(major amendment), 1981, 2017

OBJECT OF THE ACT

This act was enacted to make provision for the certification of cinematograph films for exhibition and for regulating exhibitions by means of cinematographs.

This act makes the provisions for,

  • The constitution of certification board,
  • rule and procedure for film certification,
  • categories for film certification,
  • appellate tribunal to appeal against the decision of certification board,
  • power of central government to make rules regarding film certification
  • license granting procedure to cinematographs.

PART I: PRELIMINARY

  • Parts I, II and IV of this act extends to the whole of India and Part III extends to the Union territories only. [section 1(2)]
  • “cinematograph” includes any apparatus for the representation of moving pictures or series of pictures; [section 2(c)]

PART II: CERTIFICATION OF FILMS FOR PUBLIC EXHIBITION

CONSTITUTION OF BOARD FOR FILM CERTIFICATION (SECTION 3)

  • For the purpose for sanctioning films for public exhibition, the central government may constitute a “board of film certification”.
  • This board shall consist of a chairman and minimum twelve and maximum twenty-five members, and central government has the power to appoint them.

EXAMINATION OF FILMS (SECTION 4)

  • To get the permission to exhibit the film in the country, that person is required to make an application to the board for a certificate.
  • After examining the film, the board may sanction the film in following ways-
  • sanction the film for unrestricted public exhibition

however, if there is any material in film, for which it is necessary to caution that the child below the age of twelve years should such a film with the permission of guardian or parents, the board may sanction the film for unrestricted public exhibition with an endorsement to that effect; or

  • sanction the film for public exhibition restricted to adults; or
  • sanction the film for public exhibition restricted to members of any profession or any class of persons, having regard to the nature, content and theme of the film; or
  • direct the applicant to carry out such excisions or modifications in the film as it thinks necessary before sanctioning the film for public exhibition; or
  • refuse to sanction the film for public exhibition.
  • Before sanctioning any film under any above categories, board will give an opportunity to the applicant for representing his views in the matter.

It should be noted that categories of film is further explained in section 5A.

ADVISORY PANEL (SECTION 5)

  • To help the board in examining and sectioning the films, the Central Government may establish regional centers and advisory panels.
  • The board may consult any advisory panel and it is the duty of every such advisory panel to make such recommendations to the Board as it thinks fit.

CERTIFICATION OF FILM (SECTION 5A)

  • After examining the film, the board may grant certificate in following categories-
  • If the film is suitable for unrestricted public exhibition, it shall grant to the person applying for a certificate in respect of the film a “U” certificate
  • for unrestricted public exhibition with an endorsement of the nature, a “UA” certificate; or
  • the film is not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition, but is suitable for public exhibition restricted to adults, it shall grant to the person applying for a certificate in respect of the film an “A” certificate,
  • if the movie is suitable for public exhibition restricted to members of any profession or any class of persons, it shall grant a “S” certificate, and cause the film to be so marked in the prescribed manner.
  • the applicant for the certificate, any distributor or exhibitor or any other person to whom the rights in the film have passed shall not be liable for punishment under any law relating to obscenity in respect of any matter contained in the film for which certificate has been granted under clause (a) or clause (b).
  • A certificate granted or an order refusing to grant a certificate in respect of any film shall be published in the Gazette of India.
  • A certificate granted by the Board under this section shall be valid throughout India for a period of ten years.

PRINCIPLES OF GUIDANCE IN CERTIFYING FILMS (SECTION 5B) 

  • 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 State,
  • friendly relations with foreign States,
  • public order,
  • decency or morality, or
  • involves defamation or contempt of court or
  • is likely to incite the commission of any offence.
  • Central government has the power to issue directions to setting out the principles which shall guide the authority competent to grant certificates under this Act in sanctioning films for public exhibition.

APPEALS (SECTION 5C)

  • Any person, who is aggrieved by any order of the Board, may, within thirty days from the date of such order, prefer an appeal to the Tribunal.

But if Tribunal is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal within the aforesaid period of thirty days, it may allow such appeal to be admitted within a further period of thirty days.

CONSTITUTION OF APPELLATE TRIBUNAL (SECTION 5D)

  • For the purpose of hearing appeals against any order of the Board under section 5C, the Central Government shall, constitute an Appellate Tribunal.
  • The head office of the Tribunal shall be at New Delhi or at such other place as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify
  • Tribunal shall consist of a Chairman and maximum four other members who will be appointed by the Central Government.
  • For the appointment as a chairman of the tribunal, a person should be a retired Judge of a High Court, or is a person who is qualified to be a Judge of a High Court.
  • The Central Government may appoint such persons who, in its opinion, are qualified to judge the effect of films on the public, to be members of the Tribunal.
  • The tribunal has the power to regulate its own procedure.

SUSPENSION AND REVOCATION OF CERTIFICATE (SECTION 5E)

  • the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, suspend a certificate granted, for any period or may revoke such certificate if it is satisfied that—
    • the film in respect of which the certificate was granted, was being exhibited in a form other than the one in which it was certified; or
    • the film or any part thereof is being exhibited in contravention of the provisions of this Part or the rules made thereunder.
  • No action under this section shall be taken except after giving an opportunity to the person concerned for representing his views in the matter.
  • During the period in which a certificate remains suspended under this section, the film shall be deemed to be an uncertified film.

REVIEW OF ORDERS BY CENTRAL GOVERNMENT. (SECTION 5F)

  • Where an applicant for a certificate, is aggrieved by any order of the Central Government under section 5E, he may, within sixty days of the date of publication of the notification in the Official Gazette, make an application to the Central Government for review of the order.

REVISIONAL POWERS OF THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT (SECTION 6)

  • The Central Government has the power to call for the record of any proceeding in relation to any film
  • which is pending before, or
  • has been decided by, the Board, or,
  • decided by the Tribunal (but not including any proceeding in respect of any matter which is pending before the Tribunal)
  • And after such inquiry, into the matter as it considers necessary, make such order in relation thereto as it thinks fit, and the Board shall dispose of the matter in conformity with such order.
  • Before making such order, the applicant will have an opportunity to represent his views in the matter.
  • The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, direct that—
    • a film which has been granted a certificate shall be deemed to be an uncertified film in the whole or any part of India; or
    • a film which has been granted a “U” certificate or a “UA” certificate or a “S” certificate shall be deemed to be a film in respect of which an “A” certificate has been granted; or
    •  the exhibition of any film be suspended for such period as may be specified in the direction.
  • No direction issued above, shall remain in force for more than two months from the date of the notification. And No action shall be taken except after giving an opportunity to the person concerned for representing his views in the matter.

PENALTIES FOR CONTRAVENTIONS OF THIS PART [SECTION 7]

  • If any person exhibits
  • an uncertified film or
  • exhibit the film, which was certified under “S” category to those people who do not come under that category; or
  • without lawful authority, alters or tampers with in any way, any film after it has been certified, or
  • fails to comply with the provision contained in section 6A or with any order made by the Central Government or by the Board in the exercise of any of the powers or functions conferred on it by this Act or the rules made thereunder,

then that person shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both, and in the case of a continuing offence with a further fine which may extend to twenty thousand rupees for each day during which the offence continues.

  • No distributor or exhibitor or owner or employee of a cinema house shall be liable to punishment for contravention of any condition of endorsement of caution on a film certified as “UA” under this Part.
  • If any person is convicted of an offence punishable under this section committed by him in respect of any film, the convicting court may further direct that the film shall be forfeited to the Government.
  • The exhibition of a film, in respect of which an “A” certificate or a “S” certificate or a “UA” certificate has been granted, to children below the age of three years accompanying their parents or guardians shall not be deemed to be an offence within the meaning of this section.

POWER OF SEIZURE (SECTION 7A)

  • Where a film in respect of which
  • no certificate has been granted under this Act is exhibited, or
  • a film certified as suitable for public exhibition restricted to adults is exhibited to any person who is not an adult or
  • a film is exhibited in contravention of any of the other provisions contained in this Act or of any order made by the Central Government, the Tribunal or the Board in the exercise of any of the powers conferred on it,

any police officer may, enter any place in which he has reason to believe that the film has been or is being or is likely to be exhibited, search it and seize the film.

DELEGATION OF POWERS BY BOARD (SECTION 7B)

  • The Central Government may, by order and subject to such conditions and restrictions as may be be prescribed, authorise the regional officers to issue provisional certificates.

POWER TO DIRECT EXHIBITION OF FILMS FOR EXAMINATION. (SECTION 7C)

For the purpose of exercising any of the powers conferred on it by this Act, the Central Government, the Tribunal or the Board may require any film to be exhibited before it or before any person or authority specified by it in this behalf.

BAR OF LEGAL PROCEEDINGS (SECTION 7F)

No suit or other legal proceeding shall lie against the Central Government, the Tribunal, the Board, advisory panel or any officer or member of the Central Government, the Tribunal, the Board or advisory panel, as the case may be, in respect of anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act.

POWER TO EXEMPT (SECTION 9)

The Central Government may, by order in writing exempt, subject to such conditions and restrictions, the exhibition of any film or class of films from any of the provisions of this Part or of any rules made thereunder.

PART III: REGULATION OF EXHIBITIONS BY MEANS OF CINEMATOGRAPHS

 

CINEMATOGRAPH EXHIBITION TO BE LICENSED (SECTION 10)

No person shall give an exhibition by means of a cinematograph elsewhere than in a place licensed under this Part or otherwise than in compliance with any conditions and restrictions imposed by such licence.

LICENSING AUTHORITY (SECTION 11)

The licensing authority shall be the district magistrate. But State Government may, constitute, for the whole or any part of a Union territory, such other authority as it may specify in the notification to be the licensing authority for the purposes of this Part.

RESTRICTIONS ON POWERS OF LICENSING AUTHORITY. (SECTION 12)

  • The licensing authority shall not grant a licence under this Part, unless it is satisfied that—
  • the rules made under this Part have been substantially complied with, and
  •  adequate precautions have been taken in the place, in respect of which the licence is to be given, to provide for the safety of persons attending exhibitions therein.
  • If licencing authority refuse to grant license, applicant may appeal to the State Government or to such officer as the State Government may specify in this behalf.
  • The Central Government has the power to issue, directions to licensees generally or to any licensee in particular for the purpose of regulating the exhibition of any film or class of films, so that scientific films, films intended for educational purposes, films dealing with news and current events, documentary films or indigenous films secure an adequate opportunity of being exhibited.

POWER OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT OR LOCAL AUTHORITY TO SUSPEND EXHIBITION OF FILMS IN CERTAIN CASES. (SECTION 13)

  • The Lieutenant-Governor or, the Chief Commissioner, in respect of the whole or any part of a Union territory, and the District Magistrate in respect of the district within his jurisdiction, may, if he is of opinion that any film which is being publicly exhibited is likely to cause a breach of the peace, by order, suspend the exhibition of the film and during such suspension the film shall be deemed to be an uncertified film in the State, part or district, as the case may be.
  • A copy of that order, together with a statement of reasons therefore, shall forthwith be forwarded by the person making the same to the Central Government, and the Central Government may either confirm or discharge the order.
  • An order made under this section shall remain in force for a period of two months from the date thereof, but the Central Government may, if it is of opinion that the order should continue in force, direct that the period of suspension shall be extended by such further period as it thinks fit.

PENALTIES FOR CONTRAVENTION OF THIS PART. (SECTION 14)

If the owner or person in charge of a cinematograph contravene the provisions of this Part or of the rule made thereunder, or of the conditions and restrictions upon or subject to which any licence has been granted under this Part, he shall be punishable with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees and, in the case of a continuing offence, with a further fine which may extend to one hundred rupees for each day during which the offence continues.

POWER TO REVOKE LICENCE (SECTION 15)

Where the holder of a licence has been convicted of an offence under section 7 or section 14, the licence may be revoked by the licensing authority.

POWER TO MAKE RULES (SECTION16)

  • The Central Government has the power to make rules—
    • prescribing the terms, conditions and restrictions, if any, subject to which licences may be granted under this Part;
    • providing for the regulation of cinematograph exhibitions for securing the public safety;
    • prescribing the time within which and the conditions subject to which an appeal against the refusal of license can be made.

PART IV

Part IV repeals the The Cinematograph Act, 1918.

SPECIALTIES OF THE ACT

  • This act makes adequate provision for the exhibition of films in the country.
  • This act makes the proper provisions to give reasonable opportunity to affected persons. Thus, legislature kept in its mind the principle of “audi alteram partem” very well.
  • The interesting thing is that this act gives much power to central government and in other way, it gives the full control to central government to regulate the film exhibition in the country.
  • In 1983, amendment was made which established the appellate tribunal for the speedy disposal of the case regarding film certification.
  • It also makes the provisions for advisory panel to help the board to make give right decision on the matter.

This article is written by Arshi hayat Gnagohi. She is a lawyer, blogger at ababeelfolks and writes on laws, culture, books, cinema, food and literature.