The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting vide notification dated March 15, 2024 has introduced the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 2024, (hereinafter “new Rules”) in order to amend the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983 (hereinafter “old Rules”). The new Rules aim to provide clarity and coherence in the certification process and hold significant implications for filmmakers, distributors, and audiences as well as align with contemporary standards and societal values.

The key amendments are as mentioned below:

  • Greater representation for women: While the old Rules have paved the way for representation of women as members of the Board of Film Certification, the new Rules have ensured greater representation of women thereby fostering gender equality. The new Rules mandate that one third of the members in the Board shall be women and even goes as far as to promote half of the members being women.
  • Streamlined certification process: One of the most noteworthy aspects of the new Rules is the emphasis on streamlining the certification process. Under these rules, a more transparent and efficient mechanism for film certification has been introduced. Filmmakers are now provided with clear guidelines regarding the submission of films for certification, ensuring a smoother process from application to approval. As per the old Rules, applications to certify a film were to be made in writing. However, as per the new Rules, applications to certify a film for public exhibition and applications to re-certify or change the category of a film that has received final certification from the Board, can now be filed on the online portal known as e-cinepramaan portal. Evidently, the new Rules aim to digitize the certification process.
  • Time limitation for providing certificates: The new Rules provide time limitations to ensure a timely and efficient certification process, allowing filmmakers to plan their release schedules and distribution strategies accordingly. Some of the amendments are as follows:
  1. According to the old Rules, once an application for a film has been examined and, if the film is not referred to a Revising Committee, a certificate shall be issued, or the decision will be communicated within seven days, whereas in the new Rules, the time limit to communicate the decision has been reduced to two days.
  2. In the old Rules, the Chairman was accorded power to relax the time-limits at his discretion. However, the said provision has been removed from the new Rules to ensure there are no delays.
  • Validity of certificate: As per the new Rules, a certificate granted by the Board for a specific movie will be valid perpetually from the date on which the certificate is granted, as opposed to the 10 year limitation period stipulated in the old Rules.
  • Inclusion of accessibility feature: The new Rules emphasize the importance of providing subtitles or closed captioning for deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers. Another crucial feature is the provision of audio description for individuals with visual impairments. Evidently, the old Rules have been revised to accommodate the modernization of the film industry and keep pace with the evolving world.
  • Categories of certification: Age-based certifications are recommendations to help in determining the suitability of films for different age groups and audiences. In the old Rules, the UA category was limited to one age – 12 years. In the new Rules, the UA categories have been categorized into three :
    • seven years (UA 7+),
    • thirteen years (UA 13+), and
    • sixteen years (UA 16+).
  • Priority scheme system: An application under the priority scheme can be filed by paying three times the examination fee of the film for scheduling examination of a film on priority basis within five days of filing. This is a welcomed change for filmmakers who may require certification on an expedited basis.

The Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 2024, marks a progressive step towards modernizing India’s film certification process. With detailed guidelines and a transparent certification mechanism, these rules aim to balance creative freedom with societal responsibility, ensuring that films are suitable for their intended audiences while upholding cultural values.

Written By Hashmeeta Sehgal