Finance Minister Arun Jaitley cannot be faulted for calling chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification Leela Samson and her nine colleagues who resigned as “rebels without a cause”. What forced the dancer-turned-censor board chief was the controversy surrounding the clearance given to the film “Messenger of God” featuring Dera Saccha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. They have made allegations of corruption and interference by the government which do not carry conviction with the people, as all the evidences point to their own failings. They were appointed by the UPA government and if their needs were not being met, they should have blamed the then government.
As Jaitley has pointed out, the chairperson had not sent a single letter to the government bringing to its notice the board’s complaints. The chairperson and the members could have resigned when the new government came to power to allow it to constitute a new board. If they noticed that the BJP-led government was preventing the board from performing its duty, they could have protested then and there. Nothing of the sort happened. The members resigned en masse because they knew that with Samson quitting from the CBFC, their continuance was untenable. So, they tried to make a virtue of a necessity. Alas, they forgot that they could have been more graceful while quitting.
The government can consider the point whether certification of films has any relevance now. Newspapers, magazines and videos are not certified before they are published. If they contain any objectionable material, the editor and the publisher are held responsible and are, accordingly, dealt with. The same logic can be applied to films also, whose producer and director can be held accountable for their production. They can be given norms which they will have to follow. Even if such freedom cannot be given at present, a group of sensible persons who know the medium can be found to fill the vacuum.