The Shyam Benegal panel has recommended that the censor board, or the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) should categorize rather than “use scissors” to cut them, with a few exceptions.
The panel was tasked with rethinking the “censorship process.” It signalled the government’s willingness that the process of censorship needed to be rethought.
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“We are recommending that CBFC should not be using scissors on any film. We are suggesting that in addition to different classifications that we have – we should have two categories of U/A, one plus 12 years of age and one plus 15 years of age and two categories of adult, one is normal adult and another adult with caution,” Benegal said.
The committee had been set up on January 1 to address a growing disquiet that CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani had overstepped his brief, censoring films instead of certifying them, in order to make them toe the line of “Indian culture”.
The panel also includes actor Kamal Hassan, filmmaker Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra, Piyush Pandey, Goutam Ghose, Bhawana Somaaya and senior officials of the I&B ministry.
The panel however, leaves room for discretion when a film contains anything that contravenes the provisions of Section 5B (1) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
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As per this section, a film shall not be certified if the competent authority feels that it or a part of it is against 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 involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite the commission of any offence.
As per the recommendations, the filmmaker must specify the category of certification being sought and the target audience.