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Shyam Benegal panel submitted report on Censor Board functioning

The Shyam Benegal-headed committee constituted to revamp Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) on 26 April 2016 submitted its report to Information & Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley.
The committee has recommended that CBFC should only be a film certification body whose scope should be restricted to categorizing the suitability of the film to audience groups on the basis of age and maturity.
a) Children and adults are protected from potentially harmful or unsuitable content
b) Audiences, particularly parents are empowered to make informed viewing decisions
c) Artistic expression and creative freedom are not unduly curbed in the process of classification of films
d) The process of certification by CBFC is responsive, at all times, to social change
e) The certification by CBFC keeps within the rights and obligations as laid down in the Indian Constitution.
• The certification of films shall be carried out in accordance with the Guidelines proposed for certification that have been split into three sections, with each section required to be read with the other two – General Guidelines, Issue Related Guidelines and Category Specific Guidelines.
• Recertification of a film for purposes of telecast on television or for any other purpose should be permitted.
• Out-of-turn certification may be permitted for which the applicant would have to pay five times the fee that would have to be paid if the certification were done in the normal course.
• The board can refuse certification under certain cases like
a) When a film contains anything that contravenes the provisions of Section 5B (1) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
b) Certification can also be refused, when content in a film crosses the ceiling laid down in the highest category of certification.
• The applicant must specify the category of certification being sought and the target audience
Regarding the categorisation of films, the committee recommends that it should be more specific and apart from U category, the UA Category can be broken up into further sub-categories – UA12+ & UA15+. The A category should also be sub-divided into A and AC (Adult with Caution) categories.
All nine regions will have advisory panels comprising persons who are acquainted with the languages being certified by that regional office.
a) Members from all walks of life, recommended by the National Film Development Corporation to the Central Government – 25%
b) Members of the general public recommended by the FFSI (Federation of Film Societies of India) - 25%
c) Members recommended by the National Council for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and National Commission of Women (NCW)- 25%
d) Representatives of the local film industry, as recommended by FFI (Film Federation of India) – 25%
e) Women to have 50% representation on each Panel.
• The Board, including Chairman, should only play the role of a guiding mechanism for the CBFC, and not be involved in the day-to-day affairs of certification of films.
• The functions of the Board shall be confined to the duties defined in the existing CBFC rules, which inter alia include an annual review of CBFC work, submission of annual report to the government, review of public reactions to films, and periodic recommendations for revision of guidelines.
• Given these limited functions, the size of the Board should be compact with one member representing each Regional Office. Therefore, the total composition of the Board should not be more than nine members and one Chairman.
• In order to preserve Indian Cinema, the committee recommends that every applicant be asked to deposit the Director’s Cut in the NFAI for preservation of Indian Cinema, instead of the certified version, in order to truly reflect the cinematic history of Indian cinema.
• Also recommended steps for issues of certification relating to clearances to be obtained from the Animal Welfare Board under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act
• Also recommended steps for issues relating to depiction of smoking in films wherein films are required to show a disclaimer in every scene that involves smoking, as per a directive from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The Shyam Benegal committee was constituted on 1 January 2016 by the Information and Broadcasting ministry for holistic interpretation of the provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952. The committee was asked to take note of the best practices in other parts of the world, especially where the film industry is given sufficient and adequate space for creative and aesthetic expression.
The panel also included actor-filmmaker Kamal Hassan, filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, adman Piyush Pandey and film journalist Bhawana Somayaa, Nina Lath Gupta and Joint Secretary (Films) as Member Convenor.

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