I&B Ministry denies interference in CBFC as Leela Samson quits over movie

NEW DELHI: Following the controversy over the clearance to the film Messenger of God, made by and starring Dera Saccha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief Leela Samson has put in her papers.

Asked if she was aware of media reports that the nod has been given by Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) to the film’s screening, Samson said, “I hear so. Yet, it is a mockery of CBFC. My resignation is final. I have informed Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) secretary Bimal Julka.”

The Censor Board had referred the issue of clearance to Messenger of God to FCAT. The film was slated to hit the screens on Friday.

Asked why she has decided to quit, she did not specifically refer to the reported clearance to the film but said the reasons cited are alleged “interference, coercion and corruption of panel members and officers of the organisation who are appointed by the ministry.”

Refuting allegations of interference, coercion and corruption levelled by Censor Board chairperson Samson, the government today said that it has always maintained a distance from the entire process of film certification.

With Samson deciding to resign amid a row over controversial film Messenger of God, Minister of State (MoS) for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore said, “We have respected the Censor Board all along. In fact when the issue of the previous film came up, we respected the decision of the Censor Board. We kept a hands away distance from its decisions.”

He also said that if evidence was provided that any particular member had been coerced, the government would take appropriate action.

Dismissing Samson’s allegations, Rathore said due process was being followed in all cases including  the case of Messenger of God.

“Now when this particular film has come into discussion, the Censor Board would realise that the final call lies with the FCAT, the film appellate tribunal,” Rathore said.

Asked whether the Ministry had received Samson’s resignation, “No, we are not aware. We heard this on TV, and we are briefing you so that the public is not misled.”

He said very eminent persons constitute the appellate tribunal and emphasised that the government does not interfere in the entire process of film certification.

“There is a retired justice heading the tribunal. There is a Supreme Court advocate in the appellate tribunal. There is a senior journalist in the tribunal, they take decision, whatsoever, which will be made public very soon,” he said.

The Minister also emphasised that the present Board and its members were placed by the previous government and current regime had not put in any additional member.

Meanwhile, Samson told the media, “Having to manage an organisation whose Board has not met for over nine months as the ministry had no funds to permit the meeting of members.” She said the term of all the members and the Chairperson of the Censor Board “are over but since the new government failed to appoint a new Board and Chairperson, a few were given extension and asked to carry on till the procedure was completed.”

“However, recent cases of interference in the working of the CBFC by the ministry, through an ‘additional charge’ CEO, and corrupt panel members has caused a degradation of those values that the members of this Board of CBFC and Chairperson stood for,” Samson alleged.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Sirsa (Haryana)-based Dera Sachcha Sauda said, “As per our information, FCAT has cleared the movie for release. But a written order is awaited.”

Her resignation led to comments from the film industry, where veteran Mahesh Bhatt observed, “I don't know whether the corruption charges are true... but I'd like to make an appeal to I&B minister Arun Jaitley - when he follows a system of liberal values and freedom of speech, his ministry should also be reflective of that.”

Award-winning filmmaker Onir said, “I hope her resignation brings about a positive change. She has a lot of respect in the industry and her resignation explains the hypocritical approach that the Censor Board has. It does come as a shock, but I hope filmmakers are not harassed anymore.”

Mary Kom director Umang Kumar said, “If Samson took a stand, there must be a reason. After all, she was put in that position because she was considered capable of using her discretion wisely.”

Latest Reads
TRAI, European regulator BERC sign net neutrality MoU

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) on Thursday signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MoU) on net nuetrality. The MoU, signed by TRAI chairman Ram Sewak Sharma and BEREC chair Johannes Gungl, also adopted a "Joint...

Regulators TRAI
ISRO/DoS relent on use of foreign satellites; MIB starts processing applications

MUMBAI: India’s Department of Space, overseeing the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has eased up on its hitherto hard stance on Indian TV channels and teleports using foreign satellites’ capacity --- if the Indian customer has a long-term contract. In a communication to Ministry of...

Regulators I&B Ministry
RS Prasad launches Wi-Fi choupal project

NEW DELHI: The Indian government on Monday said that 5,000 villages would be turned into digital villages where Internet services would be offered the Wi-Fi Choupal project, which would go a long in empowering people as also expose them to a host of e-governance and entertainment services.  

Regulators I&B Ministry
MIB & Prasar Bharati make up, sign agreement on funds’ release

After lot of heartburning and media statements, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Prasar Bharati, which runs Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR), have inked an agreement that was required for the release of financial allocation to the pubcaster, PTI reported today quoting...

Regulators I&B Ministry
TRAI stands up to DoT on use of foreign satellites for comms services on aircrafts

India’s telecoms and broadcast regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India today stood up again for the lawful right of satellite industry stakeholders. It reiterated that the nation’s policies and guidelines for on- board aircraft communications services like broadband should also allow use...

Regulators TRAI
MIB social media monitoring cell tender deadline extended

NEW DELHI: The Big Brother has arrived? Well the Indian government, being accused of proposing to unleash a surveillance of citizens, has gone in for another extension of the deadline seeking vendors for technical and logistics help to set up such a center.

Regulators I&B Ministry
MIB's new secy Amit Khare joins office

NEW DELHI: In what could be termed as challenging times, Amit Khare (third from left in the pix) yesterday assumed charge as secretary in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on superannuation of Narendra Kumar Sinha.

Regulators People
Star files caveat in Supreme Court on TRAI tariff order

So the slugfest on the pricing of digital television in India is entering the next round. And it is Star India which has approached the Supreme Court and filed a caveat with it on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)’s tariff regulations and more specifically on the 15 per cent issue...

Regulators Supreme Court
HC orders stay on MIB's licence cancellation directive to Alliance Broadcasting

MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court has ordered a stay on a Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) directive to a channel where it had withdrawn the channel’s licence stating that it lacked security clearance.

Regulators High Court

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories