Thiruvananthapuram - After Leela Samson and fellow member Ira Bhaskar, eminent filmmaker Shaji N Karun has resigned as member of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) pledging solidarity with them and expressing "gross dissatisfaction" at the functioning of the body.
Karun, who mailed his resignation to Samson last evening, said he was quitting not just over the issue of clearance to the controversial film "Messenger of God" but mainly because of the "constitutional and organisational" failure of the CBFC for some time.
New Delhi - Hitting back, government today accused Censor Board chief Leela Samson and its other members, appointed by the previous UPA government, of politicising the issue of their resignation and termed her being as "non- functional."
Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley charged Samson with being "non-functional" as she herself has said no meetings of the Board took place and cited unused Board funds returned to the Ministry.
"It is regrettable that the UPA appointees have decided to politicise routine issues," he said in an article "Rebels Without a Cause" posted on Facebook on the controversy over resignation of Samson and some other Censor Board members over clearance to Dera Sachcha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's film "Messenger of God".
Referring to Samson's allegation that Censor Board meetings were not held regularly, Jaitley said "the charge that meetings of the Censor Board are not being held is a self condemnation.
"The meetings are to be convened not by the Minister or the Secretary but by the Chairperson. If the meetings are not being convened, it is for those responsible for non-functioning who must blame themselves," he said.
On corruption, he said "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."
"I have not met or spoken to any member of the Censor Board nor authorised anyone to do the same," he said. He also said neither he nor his junior minister Rajyavardhan Rathore or any bureaucrat has ever communicated with any member of the Censor Board and that outgoing UPA appointees in the Board never raised the issue of corruption with him.
Jaitley said "the NDA government maintains arms length distance in all matters relating to film certification." Accusing Congress of politicising the issue, he said that in 2004 the government had dismissed the then Censor Board headed by eminent actor Anupam Kher merely on the ground that he was appointed by the earlier government. "The UPA government had politicised the Censor Board...We did not wish to do that.
Putting forth the legal position on the controversy, Jaitley said it is the Censor Board alone which decides on issues within its jurisdiction but an aggrieved producer has the right to move the Appeal Tribunal and if the latter disagrees with the Board, "it is part of the due process of law and not an onslaught on the Board's autonomy". "Can a subordinate judicial authority ever cry foul if its decision is upset by an appellate authority?," he said.
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