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Censorship in simple language means the suppression of free speech, public communication
or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically
incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other
groups or institutions. In this project, the researcher will be laying emphasis on the censorship
of movies. As we all know that our society is evolving day by day, and so as the thinking of
the society. Due to the excessive use of technology, information about anything and
everything is available just on the click of the finger. So, now it has become important for the
society to know that whether the Certification Board thinks deeply as to what certificate is
given to which movie in such a manner that the creativity of directors and actors can prevail.
And also whether the Certification Board is being successful in checking as to what message
the particular movie is giving to the society as the movies are considered to be the mirror of
our society.

In an article titled The Secret Life of Film Censorship1 written by Ms. Sohini Ghosh. As
this article was written in 2011, the views of present writers may differ from her.
As per her article what the researcher can interpret was that if film and cultural studies argue
that cinematic texts are open to a number of readings, then censorship believes in just the
reverse. Censorship is always carried out on the basis of a singular interpretation of a text
with the belief that, if allowed to pass, the images could have a harmful impact on the
viewer. What kind of harm can images do? The most commonly held belief is that images can
cause harm by instigating imitative action. In other words, it can lead people (or at least some
people) to violence, sexual assault or other harmful activities. The second notion of harm
around which censorship is invoked concerns images that offend, degrade or belittle groups
1 Ms. Sohini Ghosh, The Secret Life of Film Censorship, Count Me In!, Apr., 2011, Page No. 54
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or individuals. Those who hold this view believe that one may rightfully ask for the
elimination of an image, speech or representation if it offends groups or communities.
Those who disagree with this view argue that there is no speech that does not offend
Most of the anxieties around the image-causes-harm theory revolve around screen violence
and sexually explicit imagery. Janet Staiger aptly sums up the academic position when she
writes: The proposition that violent movies produce imitative behaviour has had great media
attention and equal critical scholarly rejection. Over the years, there has been no evidence to
show that images have a direct impact on behaviour. Film texts, regardless of authorial
intention, are open to many different readings as viewers construct meaning according to
their predisposition, generic expectations and what scholar Annette Hill has described as their
portfolios of interpretations.
Insofar as the notion of image is the harm is concerned, it has been pointed out that since
images are hugely interpretable; there can be no consensus about its meaning. Radical
feminists in the USA invoked both notions of harm to demand the banning of pornography.
Using slogans like pornography is the theory, rape is the practice, they drew a straight line
between pornography and male sexual violence. Pornography, they said, causes harm and is
itself harm in that it degrades women. The anti-censorship feminists, on the other hand,
initiated debates that profoundly shaped the contemporary understanding of consent,
womens sexual pleasure, and the wisdom of using censorship as a strategy for social change.
They drew attention to the difference between sexist speech and sexually explicit speech and
argued that by conflating sexual explicitness with sexism/misogyny, anti-porn feminists had
failed to interrogate gender-based discrimination in respectable institutions like religion, the
family, and the judiciary. They argue that terms like obscenity, degradation,
objectification and commodification are highly subjective terms that were bound to be
interpreted differently by different people. The best way to counter discriminatory speech,
they advocated, was not censorship but counter-speech.
In an article titled Media Freedom, Film Censorship and Freedom of Expression2 by Dr.
Sukanta K. Nanda. In this article, Dr. Nanda talks about the difference of censorship
between films and press. Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution that guarantees freedom of
2 Dr. Sukanta K. Nanda, Media Freedom, Film Censorship and Freedom of Expression, International
Journal of Science, Technology & Management, Volume No.04, Issue No. 01, January 2015
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speech and expression which brings in to its contours the freedom of the press. Films as a
medium of expression also are put in the same footing and accordingly granted the equal
status. Both the press and films are considered as strong mediums of communication. Both
the mediums cater to the needs of a vast number of people. Thus the films and the press enjoy
the same status and right so far as constitutional freedom relating to expression of ideas and
spreading the messages are concerned. But when a comparison comes the press enjoys a bit
more freedom because the films are subject to censorship as per the provision of existing law.
Press is immune from such censorship. Immediately after independence attempts were made
to curb the media freedom but with interference by the judiciary such attempts were negated.
The films are treated differently from the press so far as pre-censorship or censorship is
concerned. It is natural that a difference of opinion should be there regarding the question
why censorship of films and not the press. The apex Court has tried to find out an answer to
this through various judgments. The present article attempts to go in to the crux of the matter
and arrive at a conclusion.
In a recent article, Why Censor Board must stick only to certification?3 by Mr. Shubhra
Gupta expressed his views on the very recent controversy of Udta Punjab. From the
perspective of this writer who has spent a term as a board member, the existence of a body
which interprets its mandate wisely and well is imperative, not a body which goes cut, cut,
cut at the drop of a hat. Or, shall we say, the appearance of a visual. There is everything
desirable about proper certification of films: nothing good comes out of censorship exercised
from a position of we-know-best arrogance and couched in shrill voices which occupy a faux
moral high ground, or when cinema is made a political pawn.
This is how the certification procedure works: once the film is complete, a filmmaker
approaches the local office of the CBFC in order to obtain a censor certificate, without which
the film cannot be exhibited. In other words, the crucial document which lets the film fulfil its
destiny, and be shown to the viewers it was intended for.


3 Mr. Shubhra Gupta, Censor Board must stick only to certification?, The Indian Express, June 10,
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This research is descriptive and analytical in nature. Secondary and electronic resources have
been used to gather information and data about this topic. Books and other references as
guided by the faculty have been primarily helpful in giving the project a firm structure.
Websites, dictionaries and articles have also been referred to. An attempt has been made to
take in account of relevancy of Censorship of Movies in Indian context.
Subsequently, the researcher would also be focusing on the interpretation of case laws which
is already decided by the court. Here, researcher will review mainly three case laws which
will prove that censorship of movies may work towards the benefit of the society but that is
not always the case. Some judgments have been delivered with great insight and visualization
but some others are based only on self conviction and belief, that such a judgment would help
the parties, without taking into consideration the repercussions on the law or on the society at
large. So, these three cases include:1. Phantom Films Pvt. Ltd. and Ors. v. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)
and Ors.4
2. Bobby Art International, etc. vs. Om Pal Singh Hoon and others.5
3. K.A. Abbas vs. The Union of India (UOI) and Anr.6


What is the meaning of the word censor?

What constitutes offensive material?
Why is there a need of censorship?
What is the meaning of decency or morality?
What is the need of the CBFC? What are its powers?
What is the object and purpose of the Cinematograph act?
Whether or not it makes sense to censor the scenes which people have already seen in

the promo.
8. How far the restrictions by CBFC can go? And how are they be imposed?

4 MANU/MH/1059/2016
5 (1996 )4SCC 1
6 AIR 1971 SC 481
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1. A balance should be maintained while censoring the movies so as to nobodys right of
Freedom of Speech and Expression as mentioned in Article 19(1) (a) of the
Constitution of India should be infringed.
2. Also, the subject of the movie and the creativity or the art of by which movie is shown
should also be taken into consideration while granting them the certificate.

The complete research paper is divided into five chapters. The first chapter is an introduction
to the research project. The second chapter to fourth chapter focuses on the analysis of
various judgments given by Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court of India with respect
to censorship of movies in India and the last chapter is the closing of the paper or summing
up the paper and finding out a final conclusion from the paper.

Submitted by:Riya Daga

Roll No. A025
B.B.A., LL.B. (HONS.)

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