The Delhi High Court recently dismissed a Petition demanding an order restraining all television service providers from telecasting any movie with 'A' certificate, even if the movie is later modified or recertified to 'UA' or 'U'.
The Petition, filed by one Edara Gopi Chand, had also challenged an order passed in June, 1995, which permitted the CBFC to re-certify a film. It had contended that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) does not have the power to grant such recertification. Such power, it contended, allowed a movie, which was originally meant for only adult viewing, to be viewed without any restrictions.
The Centre, on the other hand, had contended that it is only after a film is subject to changes that it is considered for a recertification. This, it said, cannot be remotely considered as a recertification of the original work.
The Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar agreed with this contention and observed, "Once an original film has been subjected to modifications, changes, alternations (cuts or changes), it does not remain the original work which was granted the certificate under Section 5A of the Cinematograph Act, 1952, which is extracted above. It cannot be denied that such a film would require to be presented again to the Censor Board, before it can be exhibited in accordance with the scheme of the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
It also cannot be contended or held that such changed piece of work has to be treated as the original piece of work and the certification originally granted has to be maintained so far as this modified or changed film is concerned. So far as consideration by the Censor Board is concerned, once modified, changed or altered, the original film ceases to exist."
The Court also referred to the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983 to assert that the legislature itself has empowered the Censor Board to direct modifications in a film, as it deems necessary, before sanctioning the film for exhibition.
Thereafter, noting that the Petitioner had failed to point out any incident to support his contentions, the Court rapped him for the baseless assertions and observed, "We may also note that practice which is developing of mere reliance on statutory provisions, making sweeping assertions of violations, without pointing out any specific violation thereof and seeking orders from the court that statutory provisions are being violated. The practice of filing such writ petitions has to be deprecated and must be nipped in the bud."
The Court went on to opine that the Petition was "completely misconceived" and imposed costs on the Petitioner, directing, "In our view, valuable judicial time has been caused to be expended without any factual or legal basis for the submissions. In fact, it is duty of every party to fully inform himself of the entire statutory position before making a submission in law. In our view, the instant writ petition has been filed without considering the specific provisions of the cinematographic rules. There is no public interest involved in this writ petition as well.
For all the foregoing reasons, this writ petition is dismissed with costs which are quantified at `50,000/-. 50% of costs shall be paid to the respondent no.1 – Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and rest of the 50% costs shall be deposited with the Delhi High Court Bar Association Lawyers’ Social Security & Welfare Fund."