The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) received sharp rebuke from the Bombay High Court on Friday while a petition seeking grant of universal (U) certificate to a children's film Chidiakhana was being heard.
Division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice GS Patel were hearing the said petition filed by Children's Film Society India (CFSI), a nodal organisation under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that produces children's films and various TV programs in various Indian languages.
In January this year, CBFC asked CFSI to mute a word from a scene in the movie and also delete a particular scene from the film. CFSI agreed to make the said changes in June and Court asked CBFC for a response thereafter, to which the CBFC submitted that the film showed violence, discrimination against a community and hence the content mandates a U/A certificate.
A U/A certificate requires adult supervision of kids below the age of 12 in order to be able to watch the said film which ironically is a children's film.
Justice Patel observed-
"You (CBFC) are a certification board and not a censor board. You will not decide what one wants to watch and see. Nobody has given CBFC the intellectual morality and authority to decide what one wants to watch and see,"
Court noted that films can be used to explain issues like caste discrimination, drug addiction etc to children. Justice Patel questioned the CBFC's stand on the issue and asked-
"Are you ostriches? You put your head in the sand and pretend something does not exist!"
Court then referred to the Udta Punjab controversy and observed that the CBFC had not learnt its lesson-
"You are forming an opinion that the whole population is infantile and imbecile and you are the only one with an iota of intelligence to decide for everyone."
Thus, the bench directed the CBFC's Regional Officer to file an affidavit and in it elaborate on the CBFC's policy for certification of children's films.
The matter will now be heard on August 5.