Film Certification Appellate Tribunal dissolved, artists criticise the move

As reported, the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) has been dissolved by the Ministry of Law and Justice with immediate effect. This shocking decision has been criticised and has not been taken up very well by the film industry in India. Several creators and artists took on various social media platforms to convey their grievances regarding the same. 

The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) is a statutory body that was formed in 1983 by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India to hear the appeals of dissatisfied filmmakers regarding any form of disagreement with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).  The Ministry of Law and Justice has called for an immediate dissolving of the statutory body under the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation And Conditions Of Service) Ordinance, 2021. This ordinance amends the Cinematograph Act, 1952.  This came into effect on April 4. According to this amendment, dissatisfied filmmakers have to now approach the High Court for any form of disagreement with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). 

According to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting “The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), a statutory body, is constituted under Section 5D of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (37 of 1952) by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India. The Tribunal has its headquarters in New Delhi. The Tribunal is headed by Chairperson assisted by four members. A Secretary is appointed by the Government of India to look after the day-to-day affairs of the Tribunal.

The Tribunal hears the appeals filed under Section 5C of the Act under which any applicant for a Certificate in respect of a film who is aggrieved by an order of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), can file an Appeal directly.

Key Judgements by The FCAT in the past:

Some of the key judgements by the FCAT in the past include: 

  •  Lipstick Under My Burkha: In 2017, Alankrita Shrivastava’s award-winning movie, Lipstick Under My Burkha was refused certification by CBFC.  The reason is that the movie was “lady-oriented”. Pahlaj Nihalani was CBFC Chairperson at the time. The matter was taken up by FCAT after Shrivastava’s appeal and the film was released, with an ‘A’ certificate after some suggested cuts. 
  • Kaalakandi: This 2017 Saif Ali Khan starrer movie was asked to have more than 70 cuts by the CBFC. Then the matter reached the FCAT and the movie was released with just one cut. 

Unhappy artists 

Various filmmakers and artists tweeted about the issue and expressed their criticism towards the judgement. 

Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj called it a “sad say for cinema”.

Varun Grover took a sarcastic jab at the decision and said, “Absolutely delighted to know about the scrapping of FCAT. Next logical step, scrap CBFC.”

Filmmaker Jai Mehta said in a tweet: “What the hell?! The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal has been abolished?! How does this happen overnight? Did anyone see this coming? #CBFC #FCAT”

Hansal Mehta took to Twitter and said, “Do the high courts have a lot of time to address film certification grievances? How many film producers will have the means to approach the courts? The FCAT discontinuation feels arbitrary and is definitely restrictive. Why this unfortunate timing? Why take this decision at all?”

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