Censorship is the process of cutting out or suspending parts of either a film, book, or any material that is going to be published, if it is considered to be unappropriate. It can be unappropriate if it is considered to be obscene, or politically and socially wrong, and if it may pose a threat to the nation’s security.There have been debated regarding censorship saying that it is violating the freedom of speech and expression which is stated under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution, however it has been argued that censorship is a part of the reasonable restrictions which is stated under article 19(2) which states that the above right can be invoked if it is 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.
A film is the best form of communication which can represent anything in the form of acting through actions, these are so powerful and they can be even used as a means of change in the society. Some even inspire a person’s mind to look out of the box, to achieve their dreams and goals. Cinema/Movies/Film can be of different genres/topics but for it to be published it has to obtain a certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification to be considered legally valid and to make it available for the public exhibition. This board was established under the The Cinematograph Act, 1952 Act which contains rules and regulations regarding censorship, certification of a film and its publication. The board had the duties to give a certificate to the films spending on it’s content, it could be U which states that is a universal movies for all, UA which states that parental guidance is necessary for children to view it, A which means only adult scan watch it, and S which means it is restricted to a special class of people only. The boars also has the power to totally ban the film if it considers it inappropriate, which has been discussed above, it can be in cases where it is portraying a lot of violence, or degrading religions, has a lot of obscene content, discriminating men and women,if it is too political, causes hatred among people etc. Obscenity is subjective and it will be decided from a common person’s point of view in the society in general. Overall we can say that board is the main authority which looks into the overall impact of the film by viewing it themselves, and it either certifies the film, or totally rejects it.
One of the cases where the issue of censorship was raised firstly was in the K A Abbas v Union of India and was thereby declared that censorship does not violate the freedom of speech and expression, and pre-censorship is to be considered a vital step towards publication. There are a list of offences or crimes which are not supposed to committed by filmmakers, and they have been discussed below:
- Obscenity: It is the portrayal of certain thing which are not considered to be morally decent in the society, it is considered as offensive in the society (usually display of sexual acts). What maybe obscene today may not be the same tomorrow, it is subjective and it changes in par with the thoughts and opinions in the society. However, if indecent of offensive actions are portrayed it is considered to be a crime under section 292, 293, and 294 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Some sections define obscene content and the other provide for its punishment and penalties.
- Sedition: The act of publishing information, which bring hate toward the government and incites a person to against the government is called sedition. This is a crime under section 124A of the IPC.
- Defamation: When the content published has defamed a person particularly, it is considered to be a crime under section 499 of IPC.
- If there is any content which promotes hatred towards a particular class in the society on the basis of gender, class, race, religion, caste, place of birth, language, etc then it is considered to be a crime under section 153A of the IPC.
- When there is a contract or an agreement between the makers of the film and the movie theatres, stating that the film can be published only in certain theatres and not all, this is an offence.
There are other legislations and not only the above sections in IPC for the above offences and crimes.
At a conclusion can say that cinema is an instrument which can portray ideas and thoughts in the right way, and censorship is totally valid legally, ethically, socially and morally. It is necessary to review the films before they go out in the public, this is done for the welfare of its citizens. Cinema has the power to influence the public and hence it should take necessary measure to make sure that the wrong content is not being portrayed. Everything has a limit and therefore the freedom of speech and expression should not be used beyond its reasonable restrictions, it also should have a limited use, there has to be balance of the good and bad while we represent anything. Therefore, certification board has been established for the above said reasons, so that it can fulfill its duties to prevent them.