Film Fraternity Moves Court Over Policy

Recently, the film fraternity of Assam filed a petition against the state government over its amendment to the Assam Amusement and Betting Tax (Amendment) Act, 2007 at the Gauhati High Court. They want the amendment to be declared unconstitutional.

The petition was filed before a two bench judge and the next hearing will be in six weeks’ time. The court stated that the state government cannot change the 2007 amendment until the next assembly session takes place except through an ordinance. “We are happy that the court has accepted our petition,” said Manju Borah, filmmaker and a member of the fraternity.

On March 29, 2007 the state government had amended the act through a gazette notification. It came into force immediately. As per the new amendment, the service charges were increased to Rs 40 from Rs 4.50. The petitioners cited it as the main reason for creating an unfeasible atmosphere for filmmakers and producers.

Three new sub clauses were inserted in the amendment – Rs 10 per ticket would be imposed on a cinema hall that provides Dolby digital sound, Rs 8 eight per ticket where the hall provides pushback seats and Rs 17 per ticket where the hall provides air-conditioning with back-up generator.

“It is indeed strange to find the name of a company on a piece of legislation. Dolby is the name of a company. The state government could have inserted digital sound instead of Dolby. Assamese films enjoyed commercial viability in the Seventies, Eighties and even in the late Nineties. We suspect a business lobby is responsible for the present state of the Assamese film industry,” said Arup Borbora, lawyer to the film fraternity.

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