New Delhi: Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley Saturday hit out against Censor Board chairperson Leela Samson who quit citing corruption and the nine board members who followed suit, saying they are all "UPA appointees" and if there's any corruption they "have themselves to blame".
In a Facebook post titled "Rebels Without a Cause", Jaitley has slammed the allegations of "alleged interference by the government and corruption in the (censor) board" cited by Samson and the nine members.
Jaitley said that he and junior minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore have neither communicated with any member of the censor board, and never desired that any bureaucrat do the same.
"I have not met or spoken to any member of the censor 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. I only wished that the fact of corruption had been communicated even once by the chairperson of the censor board to me. The non-functional chairperson never did so," Jaitley added in his post.
Samson has alleged that the "board has not met for over nine months as the ministry had 'no funds' to permit the meeting of members".
Rebutting her charge, Jaitley said: "The charge that meetings of the censor board are not being held is a self-condemnation. The meetings are to be convened not by the minister or the secretary, but by the chairperson.
"If the meetings are not being convened, it is for those responsible for non-functioning who must blame themselves. I have checked up from officials of the Ministry who informed that the funds for the censor board have been returned to the ministry as unspent by the board."
The controversy came up following the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal's (FCAT) clearance to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's film "MSG - The Messenger of God", despite the fact that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)and its revising committee had not given it a green signal.
While many have claimed that Samson's resignation was triggered by this clearance, she told IANS Friday: "That is not the reason."
Clarifying the legal regime with regard to the functioning of the censor board, Jaitley said: "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 is upset by an appellate authority? The NDA government maintains arms length distance in all matters relating to film certification.
"The UPA Government had politicised the Censor Board. In 2004 they dismissed the existing Censor Board headed by eminent film actor Anupam Kher merely on the ground that Anupam Kher was appointed by the earlier government. We did not wish to do that. It is regrettable that the UPA appointees have decided to politicise routine issues."