NEW DELHI: Arun Jaitley issued a strong statement against the Censor Board on Saturday in a public post on a social networking site, admonishing the board's chairperson Leela Samson who resigned on Friday, followed by nine other members on Saturday.
The Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, who holds additional charge of the Information and Broadcasting of India along with Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, wrote that the Censor Board members who had resigned were "rebels without a cause."
Jaitley wrote a long post on Facebook late Saturday afternoon, refuting allegations of corruption and interference by the central government.
"At no point either of us have communicated with any Member of the Censor Board or desired that any bureaucrat to do the same," he wrote. "I have not met or spoken to any Member of the Censor Board nor authorised anyone to do the same."
Read my article “Rebels without a cause” http://t.co/tlcamj9Gkc
— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) January 17, 2015
He alleged that since the Censor Board had been appointed by the erstwhile UPA government, it was the UPA appointees who were to blame if there was any corruption in the board. He further said that he had never been informed about any corruption in the board's working, and called Samson a "non-functional chairperson."
"I only wished that the fact of corruption had been communicated even once by the Chairperson of the Censor Board to me," he wrote. "The non-functional Chairperson never did so."
He emphasised that if meetings were not held regularly, as alleged by the Censor Board, it was a "self condemnation."
"I only wished that the fact of corruption had been communicated even once by the Chairperson of the Censor Board to me."
"The meetings are to be convened not by the Minister or the Secretary but by the Chairperson," he wrote on Saturday. "If the meetings are not being convened, it is for those responsible for non-functioning who must blame themselves."
He clarified that he had cross-checked with I&B Ministry officials who have told him that all the funds for the Censor Board which were returned to the Ministry were as a result of being unspent.
"The legal regime with regard to the functioning of the Censor Board is clear," wrote Jaitley. "It is the Censor Board alone which decides issues within its’ jurisdiction."
Clarifying the issue of the movie "Messenger of God," which became a hotbed and triggered Samson and others to first resign, Jaitley said that the "aggrieved producer" had a right to move to the Appeal Tribunal. He alleged that the Congress party had in fact politicised the membership of the tribunal, and BJP had remedied that.
"We have restored its dignity by appointing a former Judge of high credibility as Chairperson," claimed Jaitley. "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 upset by an appellate authority?," he added. "The NDA Government maintains arms length distance in all matters relating to Film certification."
He accused the UPA government for having politicised the Censor Board. He claimed that the UPA had dismissed the earlier Censor Board headed by actor Anupam Kher in 2004 "merely on the ground that Anupam Kher was appointed by the earlier Government."
"We did not wish to do that," wrote Jaitley. "It is regrettable that the UPA appointees have decided to politicise routine issues."
READ FULL TEXT OF ARUN JAITLEY'S POST: