Censor Board chief Leela Samson quits as controversial MSG is given nod

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Former Censor Board chief Leela Samson
Former Censor Board chief Leela Samson

Amidst reports that controversial film Messenger of God featuring Dera Saccha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has been cleared by the Film Certification Apellate Tribunal (FCAT), Censor Board chief Leela Samson announced her decision to quit the post.

When asked if she was aware of the reports that the film had been passed by FCAT, Samson told PTI, “I hear so. Nothing in writing yet. Yet, it is a mockery of Central Board of Film Certification. My resignation, however, is final. Have informed the (I&B) Secretary.”

Samson, however, cited “interference, coercion and corruption of panel members and officers” in the Central Board of Film Certification by the Union I&B Ministry as the reason for her decision to quit.

The film, which was set to release on Friday, was refused a clearance for public screening after which it was referred to FCAT, and will now be released on January 23.

Recently, the Board had also come under pressure given by members of the Sangh Parivar over the release of Amir Khan starrer PK. Over that issue, Samson had gone on record saying, “Every film may hurt religious sentiments of somebody or the other. We can’t remove scenes unnecessarily because there is something called creative endeavour where people present things in their own way. We have already given certificate to PK and we can’t remove anything now because it’s already out for public viewing.”

Meanwhile, reacting to the allegations of “interference”, minister of state in the I&B ministry Rajyavardhan Rathore has said that the ministry has always “kept a hand’s distance” from the decisions of the Censor Board.

“The chairperson talks about coercion, we as the government would like to see that SMS, or a letter where she or any other member has been coerced. Then we would take appropriate action,” he said.

In a surprising turn of events, a day after Samson quits the Censor Board, another member Ira Bhaskar resigned from the Board on Friday amid protests over the controversial film, MSG. Protests are taking place all over North India, against the approval given to the film for public viewing.

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