Jaitley denies interference in Censor Board

Jaitley denies interference in Censor Board

Jaitley denies interference in Censor Board

Two days after the Censor Board chairperson resigned citing “interference and coercion” in her work, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who heads the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, said he or his junior minister had never communicated with members and blamed the UPA-appointed personnel of the board for corruption, if any.

After Leela Samson, 12 others also put in their papers on Saturday on the grounds that several suggestions given to former minister Prakash Javadekar in December 2014 for strengthening the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) were ignored.

The 12 CBFC members tendered their resignations on Saturday in a joint email to I&B Minister of State Rajyavardhan Rathore. Jaitley accused the Congress of politicising the
Censor Board which, he said, was contrary to NDA’s stand of not asking UPA-appointed members of the body to quit.  

Describing former chairperson Leela Samson as “non-functional”, Jaitley said the charge that Censor Board meetings were not taking place was a “self condemnation” since the body is independent. He also pointed out that funds allocated to the panel for spending was returned to the ministry.

“At no point either of us have communicated with any member of the Censor Board or (told) any bureaucrat to do the same. I have not met or spoken to any member of the board nor authorised anyone to do the same. It is the UPA-appointed Central Censor Board which has since continued. If there is any corruption, the UPA appointees have themselves to blame,” he said.

The minister asked why these issues were not brought to his notice by Leela Samson. The “non-functional chairperson never” talked about corruption in the board, he said.
The Censor Board meetings, argued Jaitley, are to be convened not by the minister or the I&B secretary but by the chairperson. “If the meetings are not being convened, those responsible for non-functioning must blame themselves,” he stressed.

The Congress had politicised even membership of the Appeal Tribunal and Censor Board, Jaitley charged. “If an Appeal Tribunal disagrees with the board, it is a part of the due process of law and not an onslaught on board’s autonomy. Can a subordinate judicial authority ever cry foul if its decision upset by an appellate authority?,” he said.    
Jaitley said in 2004, the UPA-I government had dismissed the existing Censor Board head actor Anupam Kher merely because he was appointed by the previous government headed by AB Vajpayee.