India is home to multitude of views, literature, and a thriving news media and movie industry. Issue regarding the role of Central Board of Film Certification and censorship has emerged recently. It encapsulates issues regarding both constitutional rights as well as creativity rights of individuals in the nation.

 

This emergence of issue on “excessive” censorship by CBFC owes its origin to changing societal values. The new generation has a different set of values with respect to marriage, relationships, openness in public and so on.

 

For example, the cutting of drug scenes from the movie Udta Punjab has been considered against Freedom of Speech and Expression as per Article 19 by many. On the other hand, many consider it as government’s duty to block any speech that is against the overall welfare of the society.

 

Merits of Censorship:

  1. Various destabilizing forces can be controlled and prevented in creating chaos in society.
  2. Ensures that sensitive material about religion is not used to create violence.

 

Demerits of censorship:

  1. Stifles free speech and expression
  2. Takes away the right from individuals to judge opinions on basis of their own faculties
  3. Impacts creativity and innovation in society

 

Clearly, the above demerits of censorship outweigh its merits and suggest that censorship should be minimized altogether. For example, the banning of Taslima Nasreen’s book in Bangladesh has effectively suppressed the voice of women’s rights in the country. Similarly, many Indian artists have complained of facing harassment during film certification procedures, thereby discouraging them.

 

Way Forward

  1. As recommended by the Shyam Benegal Committee on film certification the mandate of CBFC should be to “certify” films and not censor or cut them.
  2. CBFC should simply recommend certifications such as “adult”, “suitable for all” etc. and only recommend extreme cases to higher level committees.