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Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Code of Political Correctness

In the first of two posts on film censorship in India, I am going to discuss the issue currently at hand: The apparent 'banning' of The Da Vinci Code in Tamil Nadu. In the next post, I intend to discuss the larger issue of the Cinematograph Act (1952) itself.

Of the two—Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, Karunanidhi is the one who usually comes across as the more liberal. Interestingly enough it is his government that has now banned the screening of the Da Vinci Code in Tamil Nadu. His motives are now being questioned. In fact this debate now seems to take much the same course as the last one on reservation did—degenerate into a vicious us-and-them. An emotional mudslinging competition where facts are usually ignored.

Before getting to legal nitpicking, a few things have to mentioned. It is entirely logical to expect those people who are in a minority to feel insecure when it comes to large-scale social discourse. This very insecurity was blatantly exhibited by some 'upper-caste' schizophrenics during the reservation debate.

Much like Tony Blair (and maybe even George W Bush), Karunanidhi, who in all probability is in his last term as Chief Minister, is looking to leave a legacy behind. And much like his British and American counterparts, his attempts to do so are very obvious, mostly misguided, and over-zealously politically correct. This ban is a reflection if this, and not much else. It is based on a desire to appear morally right, even if legally it could be challenged.

According to a report in The Hindu

"The Government has taken cognizance of the various reports and complaints received from the minority communities, particularly Christian community regarding the proposed screening of the movie," the Principal Secretary, Home, said in a press release.

The screening of the movie might hurt the religious feelings and sentiments of the Christian community and lead to demonstrations and disturb peace and tranquillity within the State, the release added.

The Collectors and the Commissioner have been asked to study the situation closely and to take action under Section 13 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (Central Act 37 of 1952) for suspending the screening of the movie.

According to The Cinematograph Act of 1952, Section 13 (in Part III of the Act)

(1) The Lieutenant-Governor or, as the case may be, the Chief Commissioner, in respect of the whole or any part of a Union territory, and the district magistrate in respect of the district within his jurisdiction, may if he is of opinion that any films which is being publicly exhibited is likely to cause a breach of the peace, by order, suspend the exhibition of the film and during such suspension the film shall be deemed to be an uncertified film in the State, part or district, as the case may be.

(2) Where an order under sub-section (1) has been issued by the Chief Commissioner or a District Magistrate, as the case may be, a copy thereof, together with a statement of reasons therefor, shall forthwith be forwarded by the person making the same to the Central Government, and the Central Government may either confirm or discharge the order.

(3) An order made under this section shall remain in force for a period of two months from the date thereof, but the Central Government may, if it is of opinion that the order should continue in force, direct that the period of suspension shall be extended by such further period as it thinks fit.


But interestingly enough, Part I (Sec. 1)(2) clearly states that Part III of the act (under which is section 13) applies only to the Union Territories. So, if the report in the Hindu is not wrong, the Principle Secretary's press release is factually incorrect.

Under the provisions of the Act, the 'Central Government' may choose to relook the case of a certified film as provided under Section 6. Can a State government legislate on film releases independent of the Central government? While section 13 might seem to grant local governments certain provisions, according to the VIIthe Schedule (Article 246) of the Constitution of India, List I (60), the sanctioning of cinematograph films for exhibition is in the Union List. This means that only the central government can legislate on the issue.

Sony might do well to fight this legally.



2:17 pm

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Comments to A Code of Political Correctness

Anand, thanks for the link but for the wrong reason :-) since it is not the present CM's motives that are being questioned if you followed what I had written. That question is applicable to anyone in power in any state that does not uniformly enforce something and that is the crux of the argument. Unfortunately the "us vs. them" seems to be more of a malady in the blogosphere than it is in real life.

posted by Blogger thennavan 

4:36 pm, June 01, 2006
 

vadakkam!

posted by Anonymous Nilakantan Rajaraman 

10:04 pm, June 01, 2006
 

This very insecurity was blatantly exhibited by some 'upper-caste' schizophrenics during the reservation debate.

Care to elaborate ? I thought the "upper caste schizophrenics" are the ones demanding a factual study. In fact, that is the only demand of these "upper caste schizophrenic oppressors". (I just added the word oppressors for effect, in keeping with the times)

posted by Anonymous rc 

8:40 am, June 02, 2006
 

Don't blame me if totally unrelated!

கண்ணோட்டம்- KANNOTTAM - டாவின்சி கோட்டினை முன் வைத்து - 1

posted by Blogger Boston Bala 

1:55 am, June 10, 2006
 

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