The arrest of Central Board of Film Certification’s CEO Rakesh Kumar in an alleged bribery case has got the Information & Broadcasting ministry batting for introduction of an online mechanism wherein producers seeking certification for films will be able to track the status of their applications and plan release dates accordingly.
Kumar has been accused of allegedly seeking bribes from producers after deliberately delaying the issue of censor certificates. This would make producers jittery and compel them to pay up to secure certifications in time for release. “Having an online system for film certification has been a part of our broad scheme of things for sometime,” I&B ministry sources told The Indian Express. They added that the latest incident had given it the required push. The CBFC headquarters in Mumbai is learnt to have already initiated the process of getting the system in place.
Under the proposed system, film producers, or applicants on their behalf, will be able to apply online to get the certification. Once an application is registered, the applicant would be able to monitor its status.
“A producer would know how many films are lined up for certification before his. This will ensure that nobody is able to jump the queue by bribing. Also, having information about all applications would allow producers to plan release dates. This will bring transparency to the system,” the sources said.
The idea, sources said, is essentially to cut through the shroud of mystery surrounding film certification by putting critical details in public domain. In his capacity as Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar has already launched a web portal for online submission and monitoring of forest clearance proposal. As the I&B minister, he is learnt to be in favour of having a similar system.
Meanwhile, one question that has got many intrigued is how Kumar managed to seek illegal gratification from producers when he did not have any role to play in the issue of certification.
“The films are submitted to the regional offices where an examining committee views and clears them. In case there is a dispute, the film is viewed by a revising committee of the Board and a decision is reached by a majority vote. Technically, a CEO doesn’t figure in any of these processes,” a government source pointed out. “There could be a possibility that he was making false claims about his powers and misleading applicants,” the source added.
DDC vice-chairperson Ashish Khetan said, “As of today he does not hold the charge anymore.”