The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted relief to Indian Motion Pictures Association (IMPAA) and held that a notice issued by the Central Board for Film Certification in India (CBFC) dated April 27, 2017 was not sustainable.
Under the said notice, CBFC directed that all the applicants must submit an undertaking along with the application clearly stating whether subtitles are included in the movie. No subtitles will be added once the film is certified by CBFC, the notice states.
Division bench of Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice SJ Kathawalla held that subtitles can be added even after the film is certified as long as an endorsement is obtained from the CBFC under Rule 33 of Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983.
The petitioner association produces motion pictures. According to them, often while seeking certification for a film, the need arises for providing sub-titles to the films, particularly in situations where the film is to be exhibited in regions where the language of the film is not the same as that of the audience.
For example, when a Hindi film is to be exhibited in the southern part of India, oftentimes, the producer/ distributor may opt to provide sub-titles to enable the audience to follow the dialogues better. According to the petitioner, this addition of sub-titles would merely require an intimation to the CBFC and the endorsement of the CBFC of its acceptance on the certificate already issued. However, the petitioners contended that in the said notice CBFC insists on such sub-titles passing through the entire fresh gamut of certification as if the film is presented for certification afresh or de novo.
This entails considerable expenditure and also consumption of considerable time, IMPAA's lawyer Ashok Saraogi argued.
CBFC's counsel Advait Sethna opposed the petition contending that the powers of CBFC flow from Section 5B of the Cinematograph Act and the procedure is laid down in Rule 33 of the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983.
The bench referred to CBFC's affidavit in the case filed by one Kamlakar Kamble which states-
"The Impugned Notice, thus, is aimed at preventing the mischief in cases where the subtitles are introduced in the form of alterations after the film is certified, without complying with the mandate under Rule 33 of the said Rules."
"Even according to the CBFC thus, any addition of subtitles after certification of the film is required to be reported to the Board in Form III in the Second Schedule and the Board has to endorse the particulars of the alteration on the certificate, as mandated under Rule 33 of the said Rules. In plain terms, the petitioner does not object to this proposition at all. The entire controversy, therefore must end here. Ordinarily, therefore, the matter would have been closed at this stage. However, the impugned notice creates considerable doubt and in fact, travels beyond the stand of CBFC adopted in the said affidavit in reply."
Holding CBFC's position in the notice as not sustainable, Court reasoned that the filmmakers may feel the need to add subtitles to a film after certification as they may want to release the film in a region where the language is different from one used in the film. There is no reason that this should be prevented, Court said.
"We do not see any source of power on the part of the CBFC under the Act or the Rules to give such a mandate.
The second infirmity in this direction is that it runs contrary to the stand of the CBFC itself explained in the affidavit in reply, relevant portion of which is reproduced in this order. As per the affidavit in reply, sub-titles could be added in a film which is already certified as per the procedure by reporting the same to CBFC in prescribed format and getting endorsement of the CBFC on the certificate."
Finally, Court directed CBFC to follow the procedure explained in their own affidavit in reply for allowing addition of sub-titles to the film which is already certified.
Click here to download the Order