Bom HC | Subtitles can be included even after the film is certified by CBFC; entire fresh gamut of certification not required

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Akil Kureshi and S.J. Kathawalla, JJ., disposed of a petition by stating that the notice issued by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to Association of producers of motion pictures in regard to a requirement of submission of an undertaking along with an application stating either subtitles are included or subsequently no subtitles will be added once the film is certified as unsustainable.

In the present petition, the grievance of the petitioner was in respect to the above-issued notice by CBFC, wherein CBFC stated that it found some films being exhibited with sub-titles without even seeking the endorsement of CBFC under Rule 33. As per Rule 22(3) of Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983 only the final version of the film is to be shown to examining the committee for certification purposes.

For the above notice, the petitioner stated that after the certification is received from CBFC, often the need arises for providing subtitles to the films, particularly in situations where the film is to be exhibited in regions where the language of the film is not familiar with the audience.

Petitioner adding to the above stated that the addition of sub-titles would merely require intimation to CBFC and endorsement of CBFC of its acceptance on certificate already issued. According to the petitioner, if the said procedure is followed then no objection from their side would rise for the same.

But, CBFC insists on such sub-titles passing through the entire fresh gamut of certification as if the film is presented for certification afresh or de novo. All of this would entail considerable expenditure as also the consumption of considerable time.

Conclusion

On noting the facts and circumstances of the matter along with the submissions, Court noted a very significant point in respect to the affidavit filed by CBFC on 14-08-2018, according to which

Any addition of sub-titles after certification of the film is required to be reported to the Board in Form III in the Second Schedule and the Board has to endorse the particulars of the alteration on the certificate, as mandated under Rule 33 of the said rules.

Petitioner does not object to the above-stated proposition and ideally, the matter would have been closed at this stage. Though the impugned notice, it creates considerable doubt and travels beyond the stand of CBFC adopted in the said affidavit.

Court stated that, the said direction is unsustainable for two reasons:

  • It mandates filmmakers to submit the film with sub-titles if he desires that the film should carry sub-titles and once the film is certified, no sub-titles would be permitted to be added. Court does not see any source of power on the part of CBFC under the Act or the Rules to give such a mandate.
  • Second infirmity in the said direction was that, it runs contrary to the stand of CBFC itself explained in the affidavit in reply.

Thus, High Court in terms of the above view held that the said notice is in conflict with the stand of the CBFC noted in the affidavit in reply and the same is held to be unsustainable. [Indian Motion Picture Producers Assn. v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 2288, decided on 25-09-2019]

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