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The Cinematograph Act – Section 5B

The Cinematograph Act, 1952





1[5B. Principles for guidance in certifying films.—(1) A film shall not be certified for public exhibition if, in the opinion of the authority competent to grant the certificate, the film or any 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.


(2) Subject to the provisions contained in sub-section (1), the Central Government may issue such directions as it may think fit setting out the principles which shall guide the authority competent to grant certificates under this Act in sanctioning films for public exhibition.]




(i) The court exercising writ jurisdiction would not ordinarily substitute its view for the view of an expert. But where the decision of the Central Board of Film Certification entrenches upon the fundamental right to the freedom of speach and expression, it is not merely the function but the duty and responsibility of the court to intervene; F.A. Picture International v. Central Board of Film Certification, AIR 2005 Bom 145.


(ii) Videograph is controlled by the provisions of this Act. An interview and videograph of condemned prisoners is also subject to issuance of license under this section of the Act; M.Hasan v. Government of Andhra Pradesh; AIR 1998 AP 35.


(iii) The film “Bandit Queen” dealt with the life of a village female child transformed to a dreaded dacoit due to social evil and brutalities, to which was subjected. Scenes of nudity and rape therein and use of expletive were permitted being in aid of them. Held, scenes were intended not to arouse prurient or lascivious thoughts but a sense of revulsion against perpetrators and pity for victim. Hence, grant of ‘A’ certificate subject to certain conditions, was in compliance with the reguisite guidelines; Bobby Art International v. Om Pal Singh Hoon, AIR 1996 SC 1846.


(iv) Where an application for grant of censorship certificate is made before an authority concerned, a duty is cast upon the latter to pass such orders as may be appropriate, and expeditiously. The court is not competent to state whether the film can be released for public exhibition or not in the absence of any order passed by such authority concerned, or otherwise interfere with or step into the shoes of such authority concerned. However, the court exercised its power to direct the authority concerned to pass orders within the time specified by the court; R.K. Star Productions v. Union of India, AIR 1995 Mad 4.


(v) If the authority concerned refuses to grant the censor certificate or impose restrictions, the onus lies heavily on it to justify the decision with reasons for such refusal or restrictions, if such decision adversely affects the fundamental right granted under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution; Union of India v. Cinemart Foundation, AIR 1993 SC 171.


(vi) A scene where the heroine justifies the crime of procurement of false caste certificate holds the reservation policy as retrograde and even suggests punishment of framers of Constitution instead of those committing such crime, it amounted to infringement of the guidelines framed for the purpose of this Act; P. Jagajeeven Ram v. Government of India, AIR 1989 Mad 149.


(vii) The bodily movement suggestive of the girl (heroine) being touched at various erotic points of her body in an unusual scene where the same heroine is being sexually assaulted by an unsatisfied invisible spirit/soul, amount to vulgar display of sheer eroticism thereby violating the prohibitions contained in the guidelines issued by the Central Government under sub-section (2) of section 5B; Ramanlal Lalbhai Desai v. Central Board of Film Certification, Bombay, AIR 1988 Bom 278.


(viii) Prolonged and unduly long exposure of the nude body of the heroine in three rape and one attempted rape scenes, and also during the intimate love-making scene with the hero, without any relevance to the elements of the film’s story at various intervals, blatantly violates the guidelines issued by the Central Government under sub-section (2) of section 5B; Ramanlal Lalbhai Desai v. Central Board of Film Certification, Bombay, AIR 1988 Bom 278.


(ix) Mere display of pictures and sculptures (in the bedroom) which are not otherwise banned does not amount to obscenity or in any way, cater to the lascivious taste of prurient; Ramanlal Lalbhai Desai v. Central Board of Film Certification, Bombay, AIR 1988 Bom 278.


(x) Neither the immolation by sati is in any way the same thing as the glorification of sati nor are the supernatural/superstitious elements in the film unconventional, insensitive and irresponsible to the values and standards of the society to warrant refusal of certificate; Ramanlal Lalbhai Desai v. Central Board of Film Certification, Bombay, AIR 1988 Bom 278.



1. Section 3, 4, 5, 5A, 5B, 5C and 6 subs. by Act 3 of 1959, sec. 4, for sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 (w.e.f. 12-3-1959).


2. Ins. by Act 49 of 1981, sec. 6 (w.e.f. 1-6-1983).



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The Cinematograph Act, 1952


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