Shyam Benegal Committee

Shyam Benegal committee was tasked to look holistically into the functioning of the censor board and revamp the film certification nuances by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). It was constituted by the Union Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry.

Main Recommendation:

  • Shift from Censorship to certification (by increased categorisation into suitable age-groups)
  • Restoring to censorship in the extreme case with proper justification.

Key Recommendations:

  • CBFC should only be a film certification body and its scope should be restricted to categorizing the suitability of the film to audience groups on the basis of age and maturity.
  • The board can refuse certification when a film contents contravenes the provisions of Cinematograph Act.
  • It can also refuse certification when content in a film crosses the ceiling laid down in the highest category of certification.
  • The applicant for certificate must specify the category of certification being sought and the target audience.
  • The categorisation of films should be more specific and apart from U category, the UA Category can be broken up into further sub-categories UA12+ and UA15+. The A category should also be sub-divided into A and AC (Adult with Caution) categories


The Committee was constituted in January 2016 to take a relook at the functioning of the board. It was asked to take note of the best practices in other parts of the world, especially where the film industry is given sufficient and adequate space for creative and aesthetic expression.

Views in favour of Censorship:

  1. Maintenance of Public order : The onus of which lies with the State, thus justifies censorship of any element that may induce communalism or riots by hurting sentiments of people
  2. Ensuring Decency and morality : to preserve the social character of the society
  3. Upholding Principles enshrined in the DPSP in our constitution : Like promotion of international peace and security (by marinating friendly relations), secure social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people among others.

In view of the above, detailed provisions have been highlighted in section 5B(1) of the Cinematograph Act (that empowers CBFC)

Views against Censorship:

  1. Moral Policing : The CBFC is accused of being government nominated propagating agendas of the government of the day
  2. Certification : Certification and restriction to suitable age groups is more democratic approach
  3. Right to expression : Censorship violates the right of both creator and its intended viewers.
  4. Subjectivity : The current provisions amount to a lot of subjectivity in justification of censorship.

What does film makers say?

  1. There is no pre-censorship on other modes of communications (e.g. print media), then why only on films.
  2. Not only do films face such censorship but also the guidelines for it are vague and arbitrary
  3. Decision of what to watch and what not to watch should be left to the citizens.

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