Mumbai: The Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) was once again left red-faced on Friday when the Bombay High Court slammed it for refusing to grant a Universal certificate to a children's film. The HC said the CBFC was not a censor board and it also did not have any intellectual moral or authority to decide what the public could watch. A bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel was irked at the CBFC for granting a U/A (universal/adult) certificate to the film called 'Chidiakhana', which looks at child labour.
The bench was seized with a plea filed by the Children's Film Society (CFS), India, seeking directions to the CBFC to hear its plea to issue universal certificate. CBFC has objected to two scenes from the film, one of which has an abusive word. It has accordingly refused to grant a universal certificate despite the makers submitting an undertaking that they will delete the said scenes.
Having heard the 'justification', the judges came down heavily on the board for its approach. It said by insisting that film makers delete such scenes, the CBFC was only pretending that these issues do not exist. "Are you (CBFC) ostriches? Putting your head in the sand and pretending something does not exist.
We actually wonder if your officials have children," Justice Patel remarked. "You are a certification board and not a censor board. You will not decide what one wants to watch and see," Justice Patel added. The CBFC on Friday apprised the bench of the conditions it had laid down for the filmmakers to get a universal certificate.
At this, Justice Patel said, "Nobody has given you the intellectual morality and authority to decide what one wants to watch and see. Looks like we may have to redefine your role entirely because 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."The judges further noted, if a film meant for children highlights serious issues like racism, child or drug abuse etc, then films are the best method to explain the issues.
"How else do you expect one to show and explain these issues to a child?" Justice Patel asked the CBFC. The court accordingly posted the matter for further hearing on August 5, with a direction to the board to file an affidavit spelling out its policy while certifying a film meant for children.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)