The controversial circular banning cuss words, issued on the directive of new Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, has been put on hold following protests by several board members at a CBFC meeting on Monday. This was the first board meeting after Nihalani took over as CBFC chief. It was attended by board members and regional officers, including nine new members, and CEO Shravan Kumar.
Reportedly, the circular that listed cuss words in Hindi and English, including ‘Bombay’, was discussed at the meeting and several board members opposed it.
It was brought to Nihalani’s notice that in keeping with the Cinematograph Act 1952, which guides CBFC’s functioning, the chairperson does not have the authority to take such decisions and that such powers rested only with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Sources said the circular was put on hold and the board decided to convene another meeting to discuss the issue at length. Both Nihalani and Kumar were unavailable for comment.
A board member, who refused to be named, said: “The role of the chairperson and the board is merely recommending and advising the I&B. This became clear to Pahlaj Nihalani during the meeting. The decision whether or not the circular should be implemented now rests with the ministry”. It was also unanimously decided that Kumar will be CBFC’s official spokesperson.
CBFC has found itself at the centre of controversy over the past few months. After arrest of former CEO Rakesh Kumar in a bribery case, Leela Samson and nine board members resigned citing interference by the government. The new members, including Nihalani, are said to be close to the ruling BJP and RSS. The circular was thus viewed as a bid to impose a saffron agenda.