Amendments To The Cinematograph Rules; Examining The Impact




The Indian film industry operates under the regulatory framework of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 which governs censorship in the country. This Act establishes a hierarchical structure of government officials, including the chairperson, board members, and advisory panels, tasked with assessing films for compliance with guidelines outlined in the Act. On July 31, 2023, the Parliament of India passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Act, 2023 amending the Cinematograph Act after 40 years. This important Amendment Act signifies a significant move by the Indian film industry to combat piracy, which is estimated to cause losses of Rs 20,000 Crores to the sector.

“With this vision, the historic amendment of the Act in 2023 has been followed by the full empowerment facilitated by the overhauled Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 2024,” a press release stated, highlighting the symbiotic relationship between the amended Act and the updated Certification Rules. Subsequently, on March 15, 2024, the Centre replaced the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983, with the Cinematograph Certification Rules, 2024. These Rules were notified following the Parliament’s nod to the Amendment Act, 2023. This update aims to enhance the efficiency and adaptability of the film certification process in India to better meet contemporary industry needs and standards.

Key Features of The Cinematograph Rules, 2024

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has spearheaded a comprehensive overhaul of film certification rules in India, aiming to modernize the process for public exhibition. The new Rules introduce several significant provisions, including age-based certification such as UA 7+, UA 13+, and UA 16+, offering better guidance for parents on film suitability for children. Gender equality is ensured with one-third of the CBFC Board members being women, with a preference for 50% representation. In addition to these reforms, there have been changes to the tenure of the Members of the board. According to the updated regulations, members shall now continue to hold office for a period of 3 years, even after the expiration of their term, until a new member is appointed.

Filmmakers now have the provision for expedited certification to cater to urgent release commitments, and CBFC certificates enjoy perpetual validity, replacing the previous 10-year limitation. Edited films for television will require recertification to adhere to public exhibition guidelines.

Films in multiple languages must comply within six months, while others have a two-year deadline, and starting January 1, 2025, films submitted for prestigious events must adhere to the guidelines. Oversight for implementation will be provided by a dedicated committee appointed by the Ministry, comprising representatives from the film industry and persons with disabilities. These Rules also introduce a provision for films with ‘A’ or ‘S’ certificates requiring separate certification for television or other media platforms, with the possibility of necessary edits directed by the Board. The Rules also criminalize unauthorized recording and exhibition of films, with penalties including imprisonment of 3 months and fines going up to 3 lakh Rupees, with a potential extension to 3 years imprisonment and a fine up to 5% of the audited gross production cost. Notably, certain exemptions under the Copyright Act, 1957, apply to these offenses, allowing limited use of copyrighted content under specified circumstances. Additionally, the definitions of “Long Film” and “Short Film” have been updated: “Long Film” now refers to a film running 72 (seventy-two) minutes or more, including the credit and title time of the film, while “Short Film” is defined as a film running less than 72 (seventy-two) minutes. Under the previous law, the definitions of both films were in terms of the length of the film in 35mm or corresponding length in other gauges. Moreover, the definition of “chairman” of the board has been replaced with “chairperson”, reflecting a more gender-neutral approach to the terminology used within the regulatory framework.

Analysis of The Rules

The problem of piracy has long plagued the movie industry around the world, with countries like the United States and Japan taking strict measures to combat it while India lagged behind in implementing effective regulations. However, with the introduction of the Amendment Act, 2023, the fundamental legal principle of protecting original work has been reinforced. The Act introduces Sections 6AA and 6AB, which prohibit unauthorized recording and exhibition of films for profit, strengthening copyright protection. These provisions signify a significant step towards curbing piracy and safeguarding the rights of filmmakers in India. The passing of the Amendment Act, 2023 has been met with minimal opposition, providing a welcomed relief to film producers and the industry overall, marking a pivotal moment in upholding creative integrity.

By incorporating provisions to ensure greater representation of women on the CBFC Board, the reforms have had a far-reaching impact on promoting gender equality within the film certification process. These Rules demonstrate a multifaceted approach to advancing gender equality within India’s film certification process. By addressing representation, language, inclusivity, and procedural fairness, these reforms contribute to creating a more equitable and inclusive environment for all stakeholders in the Indian film industry.

This move is welcomed not only by producers, but also by investors and stakeholders, who see it as a positive boost for the industry and a necessary safeguard for intellectual property rights. These reforms represent a significant stride towards modernization and inclusivity in India’s film industry, ensuring a more accessible and fair certification process for all involved, thereby fostering a vibrant and sustainable creative ecosystem.


Authors: Abha Shah & Nitika Nagar








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