CBFC row: 12 members resign; Arms length maintained: Jaitley

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New Delhi: The Censor Board was rocked by more resignations today with 12 members quitting so far in protest against alleged government interference, a charge rejected by I&B minister Arun Jaitley who said it maintains an “arm’s length distance” in film certification matters.

Jaitley also said it is “regrettable” that the UPA appointees have decided to “politicise” routine issues, calling the members who quit as “rebels without a cause”.

He called Leela Samson who resigned as the Chief of the Board as “non-functional chairperson”.

After the resignation of Samson as Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Chairperson was accepted yesterday, the Board was reduced to 23-members, according to officials.

However, with 12 more members quitting, the film censor body would be further reduced to, setting the stage for a revamp of the body.

In their joint letter of resignation, the members including Arundhati Nag, Ira Bhaskar, Lora Prabhu, Pankaj Sharma and Rajeev Masand said the events that led to Samson resigning from her position were merely the “proverbial last straw”.

“It is our firm position that given the cavalier and dismissive manner in which the CBFC is treated by the government, it is impossible to perform this duty with even a modicum of efficacy or autonomy,” they added.

Samson, who headed the statutory body under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, alleged “coercion”, “corruption” and “interference” by the government in its functioning. Her resignation came amid controversy surrounding the clearance of film “Messenger of God” featuring Dera Saccha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh by the film tribunal.

However, Jaitley hit back saying, “At no point either of us (he and his junior minister Rathore) have communicated with any Member of the Censor Board or desired that any bureaucrat to do the same. I have not met or spoken to any Member of the Censor Board nor authorised anyone to do the same. It is the UPA appointed Central Censor Board which has since continued.”

“If there is any corruption, the UPA appointees have themselves to blame. I only wished that the fact of corruption had been communicated even once by the Chairperson of the Censor Board to me. The non-functional Chairperson never did so. The charge that meetings of the Censor Board are not being held is a Self Condemnation,” the minister said.

“The NDA government maintains arms length distance in all matters relating to film certification,” he said in a Facebook article “Rebels Without a Cause” on the recent controversy involving the Censor Board.

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