90% of my colleagues uneducated,an embarrassment: Censor chief

Bench says Samson to exercise powers and review certification if warranted.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:September 21, 2013 3:14 am

Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairperson Leela Samson has claimed that 90 per cent of the panel members clearing movies in India are “uneducated” and an “embarrassment”.

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Samson,a noted Bharatanatyam dancer who was appointed CBFC chairperson in 2011,has said that 200 such panel members — “largely insensitive individuals,politically ambitious people and party workers” — are handpicked by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting every two years,and that the board is left to face the flak for their “irresponsible” decisions.

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“There are,no doubt,a few educated among them in every region,but 90 per cent of them are uneducated and an embarrassment to us.

“They cannot read nor write,cannot sign their names on the forms,leave alone read the script of the film they are watching or understand the responsibility that this empanelment entails,” she has said.

Samson has added that when she mentioned this to I&B minister Manish Tewari,he said that such members too were representative of the country’s people and no change could be implemented.

Samson’s comments are made in her e-mail response to some residents of Mumbai who had written to her expressing their strong objections to the clearance given to the Hindi film Grand Masti. The complaint asked how the CBFC certified the film they said showed women as mere sex objects and crossed all limits of decency.

Her letter was cited in the Supreme Court Friday by advocate Jyotika Kalra as she demanded a ban on Grand Masti over its alleged vulgar dialogues and obscene content. The petition also asked the CBFC to reconsider the certificate of exhibition granted to the movie.

When Kalra read out from the letter,a bench led by Justice B S Chauhan wondered if the CBFC chairperson was so helpless and observed that Samson should exercise her powers and review the certification if it so warranted.

However,after the bench was apprised that the petitioner’s plea for a review of the certification was already pending,it asked Kalra to withdraw the petition at the moment and wait for the decision after review.

In the letter,a copy of which has also been sent to Tewari,Samson has blamed the I&B ministry for turning “deaf ears” to her request for letting the board appoint panel members and train them judicially. “But the ministry maintains its prerogative to appoint such members as they deem fit and watch,as our board time and again has taken the blame for insensitive certification,” she said in her e-mail dated September 19.

“Perhaps it is time for the ministry to reply to your individual letters about the certification of Grand Masti and to tell the nation and our board why incompetent,insensitive and uneducated people are certifying our films,” she said.

Samson said the board would take responsibility for the certification of every film in India if it had a say in the appointment of regional panel members.

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