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Censor Board chief Leela Samson quits over ‘MSG’ clearance

MUMBAI: The yet-to-be-released controversial film ‘Messenger of God’ (MSG) has triggered a fresh roll of controversy, with the Censor Board chief Leela Samson quitting her post to oppose the clearance given to the film.

A day after Samson quit, the government denied any interference in the board’s functioning. The Censor Board had found the film “not suitable for public viewing”.

leela_samsonThe Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Rajyavardhan Rathore told reporters, “There was no government interference in clearing the film ‘Messenger of God’. The Censor Board is an independent body; it needs to behave like one.”

He further added that the ministry has not received Samson’s resignation letter. Rathore also said that the decision of the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) over the film should be final and accepted by all.

Samson announced her resignation after the tribunal gave its go-ahead to clear ‘MSG’ featuring Dera Saccha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a lead role.

She stated that her reasons to quit are due to “interference, coercion and corruption of panel members and officers of the organisation who are appointed by the ministry”.

“Having to manage an organisation whose Board has not met for over nine months as the ministry had no funds to permit the meeting of members,” she said.

She said the term of all the members and the chairperson of the Censor Board are over. But since the new government failed to appoint a new Board and chairperson, a few were given extension and asked to carry on till the procedure was completed.

Asked if she was aware of media reports that the nod has been given by the FCAT to the film’s screening, Samson told PTI, “I hear so. Nothing in writing yet. Yet, it is a mockery of Central Board of Film Certification. My resignation is final. Have informed the [I&B] secretary.”

The Censor Board had referred the issue of clearance of the film to the FCAT. The film was slated to hit the screens on Friday.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson of Sirsa (Haryana)-based Dera Sachcha Sauda said “as per our information, the FCAT has cleared the movie for release. But a written order is awaited”.