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Nine Censor Board members resign after chief Leela Samson quits following MSG controversy

January 17, 2015 | By

New Delhi: Following the resignation of Censor Board (Central Board of Film Certification – CBFC) chief Leela Samson, 9 more members have reportedly quit their posts as well. Quitting members have alleged interference by Information and Broadcasting Ministry of Indian government in the matters related to CBFC. The whole drama unfolded after the I&B ministry allegedly “secured” clearance for controversial film “Messenger of the God” (MSG).

After Leela Samson, another member, Ira Bhaskar, who also quit told the media that the other resignations had been a result of Samson’s quitting and that ‘we support her decision to resign’.

MSG cleared, CBFC chief, 9 more quit

MSG cleared, CBFC chief, 9 more quit

On Friday (Jan. 16), Leela Samson had resigned citing reasons of ‘interference and corruption’ after the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) apparently cleared the controversial film Messenger of God (MSG) that stars Dera Saccha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Leela Samson said the reasons cited are alleged “interference, coercion and corruption of panel members and officers of the organization who are appointed by the ministry.”

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.

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

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

On January 12, Samson had said “it has been unanimously decided to refer the film to FCAT”.

The Dera spokesman said the movie “is against drugs and there is nothing objectionable” in it.

The Union Home Ministry has been concerned that the release of the film may evoke protests from some quarters as certain Sikh organisations have been opposing the movie.

The Home Ministry had sent an advisory to states that “various Sikh organisations and individuals are opposing the movie on the ground that its release would disturb the communal harmony and law and order. They also opine that glorification of DSS chief, facing serious criminal cases, should not be allowed”.

The Home Ministry said tension between DSS followers and Sikhs always remain a potential flash point in view of ongoing rivalry between Sikhs and the Dera followers.

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