A Peek into the Central Board for Film Certification

This post was first published on 2nd September, 2014.

What is the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)?

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is a statutory body under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, regulating public exhibition of films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952. Films can be publicly exhibited in India only after they have been certified by the CBFC.

What is its constitution?

The Board consists of non-official members and a Chairman (all of whom are appointed by the Central Government) and functions with its headquarters at Mumbai. Leela Samson is the present Chairman of the CFBC. It has nine Regional Offices, one each at Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Cuttack and Guwahati. The Regional Offices are assisted in the examination of films by Advisory Panels. The members of the panels are nominated by the Central Government by drawing in people from different walks of life for a period of 2 years.

What are the various certifications provided in India?

The Certification process is in accordance with the Cinematograph Act, 1952, the Cinematograph (certification) Rules, 1983, and the guidelines issued by the Central government u/s 5 (B). At present, films are certified under the following categories:

U – Unrestricted Public Exhibition

UA – Unrestricted Public Exhibition but with a word of caution that Parental discretion is required for children below 12 years

A – Restricted to Adults

S – Restricted to any special class of persons

What are the guidelines the boards follows for certification?

The Cinematograph Act lays down that a film shall not be certified if any part of it is against the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite commission of any offence. Under section 5 (B)(2) the Central Government has issued the following guidelines:

A film is judged in its entirety from the point of view of its overall impact and is examined in the light of the period depicted in the film and contemporary standards of the country and the people to whom the film relates, provided that the film does not deprave the morality of the audience. Guidelines are also applied to the titles of films.

1. Objectives of Film Certification

i) the medium of film remains responsible and sensitive to the values and standards of society;

ii) artistic expression and creative freedom are not unduly curbed;

iii) certification is responsible for social changes;

iv) the medium of film provides clean and healthy entertainment; and

v) as far as possible, the film is of aesthetic value and cinematically of a good standard.

2. In pursuance of the above objectives, the CBFC shall ensure that:

i) anti social activities such as violence are not glorified or justified

ii) the modus operandi of criminals, other visuals or words likely to incite the commission of any offence are not depicted;

iii) scenes –

a. showing involvement of children in violence as victims or perpetrators or as forced witnesses to violence, or showing children as being subjected to any form of child abuse.

b. showing abuse or ridicule of physically and mentally handicapped persons; and

c. showing cruelty to, or abuse of animals, are not presented needlessly

iv) pointless or avoidable scenes of violence, cruelty and horror, scenes of violence primarily intended to provide entertainment and such scenes as may have the effect of de-sensitising or de-humanising people are not shown;

v) scenes which have the effect of justifying or glorifying drinking are not shown;

vi) scenes tending to encourage, justify or glamorise drug addiction are not shown;

a. scenes tending to encourage, justify or glamorise consumption of tobacco or smoking are not shown;

vii) human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity;

viii) such dual meaning words as obviously cater to baser instincts are not allowed;

ix) scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are not presented;

x) scenes involving sexual violence against women like attempt to rape, rape or any form of molestation or scenes of a similar nature are avoided, and if any such incidence is germane to the theme, they shall be reduced to the minimum and no details are shown

xi) scenes showing sexual perversions shall be avoided and if such matters are germane to the theme they shall be reduced to the minimum and no details are shown

xii) visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups are not presented

xiii) visuals or words which promote communal, obscurantist, anti-scientific and anti-national attitude are not presented

xiv) the sovereignty and integrity of India is not called in question;

xv) the security of the State is not jeopardized or endangered

xvi) friendly relations with foreign States are not strained;

xvii) public order is not endangered;

xviii) visuals or words involving defamation of an individual or a body of individuals, or contempt of court are not presented.

EXPLANATION: Scenes that tend to create scorn, disgrace or disregard of rules or undermine the dignity of court will come under the term ”Contempt of Court”: and

xix) national symbols and emblems are not shown except in accordance with the provisions of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 (12 of 1950)

3. The Board of Film Certification shall also ensure that the film

i) Is judged in its entirety from the point of view of its overall impact; and

ii) Is examined in the light of the period depicted in the films and the contemporary standards of the country and the people to which the film relates provided that the film does not deprave the morality of the audience.

4. Films that meet the above – mentioned criteria but are considered unsuitable for exhibition to non-adults shall be certified for exhibition to adult audiences only.

5. i) While certifying films for unrestricted public exhibition, the Board shall ensure that the film is suitable for family viewing, that is to say, the film shall be such that all the members of the family including children can view it together.

ii) If the Board, having regard to the nature, content and theme of the film is of the opinion that it is necessary to caution the parents / guardian to consider as to whether any child below the age of twelve years may be allowed to see such a film, the film shall be certified for unrestricted public exhibition with an endorsement to that effect.

iii) If the Board having regard to the nature, content and theme of the film, is of the opinion that the exhibition of the film should be restricted to members of any profession or any class of persons, the film shall be certified for public exhibition restricted to the specialized audiences to be specified by the Board in this behalf.

6. The Board shall scrutinize the titles of the films carefully and ensure that they are not provocative, vulgar, offensive or violative of any of the above-mentioned guidelines.


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