Features Sunday, January 18, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | January 17, 2015 | 7:40 am IST Leela Samson has resigned as the censor board chief, protesting against what she termed interference by the government, while denying on Friday that her exit was linked to controversial film "MSG", which is ready for release after the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) gave it the green signal. Samson has headed the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), a statutory body under the information and broadcasting ministry, since 2011. It regulates the public exhibition of films under the Cinematograph Act, 1952. An acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer, Samson said her resignation followed interference by the government in the censor board's working and what she described as coercion and corruption of panel members. But she denied speculation that her departure was due to the clearance given by the FCAT - which hears appeals of applicants aggrieved by a CBFC order, for film certification - to Dera Saccha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's film "MSG - The Messenger of God". When IANS asked Samson if "MSG" was the factor, she said: "That is not the reason." Meanwhile, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said Samson's resignation was her personal decision and there was no coercion by the government. "MSG" was reportedly first rejected by the examining committee of the censor board and referred to the revising committee. When it too decided against clearing the film, it was referred to FCAT, which cleared it for release after asking producers to make minor changes. The film's producers claimed they have got the required permission from the censor board for the movie's release, but it didn't hit the screens as scheduled on Friday. A high-profile premiere was planned for the movie in Gurgaon. Thousands of his fans had gathered at Leisure Valley Ground there to watch a screening, amid protests by the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) workers and the party's student wing Indian National Student Organisation (INSO) activists. The movie's premiere had to be postponed to Sunday, and police and security agencies in Punjab and Haryana were put on alert following the protests. Sect leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who is said to have around 50 million followers and has has been mired in a controversy since 2001, facing murder and rape cases in courts, told media in Gurgaon that there was nothing objectionable in his film. "There's a move to stop the release of the film. I have no knowledge on why the censor board objected to the film," he said, adding that the film carries a message against social evils like alcoholism, prostitution and drugs and promoted good causes like blood donation and doing voluntary work. Samson said in an earlier statement: "Interference, coercion and corruption of panel members and officers of the organisation appointed by the ministry and 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." "The term of all members and the chairperson is over. But since the new government failed to appoint a new board and chairperson, a few were given extensions and asked to carry on till this 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 have caused a degradation of those values the members of this Board of CBFC and chairperson stood for," Samson added. With IANS Tweet Follow @thenewsminute

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