FCAT orders CBFC to grant UA certificate to a film on the rise of AAP

FCAT orders CBFC to grant UA certificate to a film on the rise of AAP
The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) has ordered for grant of UA certificate to a documentary film which portrays the rise of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) under the leadership of its convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

In its order, the Tribunal, headed by Justice Manmohan Sarin, observed that the Central Board of Film Certification's (CBFC) insistence on no objection certificates (NoCs) from political personage and others as a pre-condition for certification of the documentary were "wholly unsustainable and not permissible at law."

“Such a requirement requiring NoC from public personalities would cull the documentary cinema, rather render the making of a documentary on political scenario neigh impossible,” the FCAT added.

The Tribunal was hearing an appeal filed by the maker of the documentary—“Yeh Jantantra Hai: An Insignificant Man.”

The CBFC, which was was until recently headed by Pehlaj Nihalani, had denied giving clearance to the documentary film, seeking certain cuts and no objection certificates from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.

“The producers of the documentary had quoted and reproduced/excerpts from speeches and/or taken from record events and information that is available in public domain, the FCAT noted.

In these circumstances, requiring a film maker to obtain NoCs from the affected parties or characters in the film to whom references are made, was “tantamount to CBFC abdicating its statutory functions.”

“This is neither desirable nor permissible at law. A fetter cannot be imposed on the screening of the film by way of prior restraint or requiring NOCs. Such restraints could be placed only in cases of publication of series of defamatory imputations and/or where ulterior motive or malice is apparent," the FCAT observed, directing the CBFC to grant UA certificate to the documentary film.

During the hearing of the matter, the appellant, M/S Friendly People, voluntarily offered to remove the footage of Lok Sabha from the film. It also undertook responsibility for imputations, stating that it would plead justification and fair comment when required.


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