Censor Board chief quits to protest film MSG ‘clearance’

NEW DELHI (TIP): Amidst reports that controversial film “Messenger of God” featuring Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in lead role has been cleared by Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), Censor Board chief Leela Samson on January 15 night said she has decided to resign.

Asked if she was aware of media reports that the nod has been given by FCAT to the film’s screening, Samson said “I hear so. Nothing in writing yet. It is a mockery of Central Board of Film Certification. My resignation is final. Have informed the (I&B) Secretary”.

There was, however, no official word on the decision, if any, of FCAT.

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 organization who are appointed by the ministry.”

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According to Samson, “…having to manage an organization 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 of Sirsa (Haryana)-based Dera Sacha Sauda said “as per our information, FCAT has cleared the movie for release. But a written order is awaited.”

Govt denies interference
There was no coercion or interference from the government to give a “clearance” to controversial film “Messenger of God” featuring Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, junior minister in information and broadcasting ministry, said on January 16.

“This is her personal choice, the government has no comment on it,” Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore commented on resignation of Censor Board chief Leela Samson.

Rathore also said that if “Leela Samson is saying that there was coercion or interference from the government side, then she should give proof of it”.

“Censor Board and all its members were brought in by the last government, we haven’t brought in new members,” Rathore added.
Hinting that Leela Samson was not taking here role seriously, Rathore said that “my officers tell me that in last few months, she only attended office once”.

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