FCAT abolished, HC only option for aggrieved filmmakers; celebrities react
The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), a statutory body constituted to hear appeals by filmmakers aggrieved by the orders of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), has been dissolved. According to Film Information, the body has been abolished by the Ministry of Law & Justice with immediate effect. Various actors and directors were taken aback by this and have since criticized the move.
With no institution to act as a mediator, filmmakers will now have to approach the High Court with their grievances. Aligarh director Hansal Mehta pointed out, "Do the high courts have a lot of time to address film certification grievances? How many film producers will have the means to approach the courts?" Calling it "definitely restrictive," the filmmaker asked the reason behind the call.
Do the high courts have a lot of time to address film certification grievances? How many film producers will have the means to approach the courts? The FCAT discontinuation feels arbitrary and is definitely restrictive. Why this unfortunate timing? Why take this decision at all?— Hansal Mehta (@mehtahansal) April 7, 2021
Similar criticism came from director Vishal Bhardwaj and actress Richa Chadha. Many social media users wondered how or why the decision was taken without any prior warning. Filmmaker and producer Jai Mehta wrote, "How does this happen overnight? Did anyone see this coming?" Sikhya Entertainment CEO Guneet Monga was also seen asking, "How does something like this happen? Who decides? (sic)" on Twitter.
Many films, including Alankrita Shrivastava's Lipstick Under My Burkha, wouldn't have seen the light if not for FCAT. Shrivastava had approached the body in 2017 when CBFC refused to certify Lipstick. Finally, it was released with a few minor edits and an 'A' certificate. Similarly, Anurag Kashyap-backed Udta Punjab and Kushan Nandy's Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer Babumoshai Bandookbaaz faced similar ordeals and were saved by FCAT.
As per Mint, the Centre had earlier notified the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalization and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021, to dissolve certain appellate bodies and transfer their roles to other existing judicial bodies. FCAT's discontinuation could be a result of this order. FCAT was introduced vide Section 5D of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (37 of 1952) by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in 1983.