With the Censor Board hit by a spate of resignations, Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the government maintains an arm’s length in all matters, relating to film certification and charged Congress with politicising the issue.
He also said neither he nor his junior minister Rajyavardhan Rathore or any bureaucrat had ever communicated with any member of the Censor Board and that outgoing United Progressive Alliance (UPA) appointees in the Board never raised the issue of corruption with him.
“The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government maintains an arm’s length in all matters, relating to film certification,” he said in a Facebook article “Rebels Without a Cause” on the recent controversy over resignation of Censor Board Chairperson Leela Samson and some other members over clearance to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s film Messenger of God.
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 grounds that he was appointed by the earlier government.
“The UPA government had politicised the Censor Board…We did not wish to do that. It is regrettable that the UPA appointees have decided to politicise routine issues,” he said.
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.
Jaitley alleged Congress has politicised even the membership of the Appeal Tribunal even though the NDA government has restored its dignity by appointing a former judge of high credibility as its chairperson.