Revamped Tribunal cleared Dera film

January 18, 2015 01:44 am | Updated November 16, 2021 05:55 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal had asked the makers of the controversial film, Messenger of God , starring Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda, to delete a dialogue in which a person refers to him as god.

Interestingly, the Narendra Modi government, on January 1, appointed three new members to the FCAT. The Tribunal is now headed by retired High Court justice Reva Khetrapal and its members are journalist Shekhar Iyer, political editor of the Deccan Chronicle , and Supreme Court advocates Bina Gupta and Vipin Gogia. Mr. Gogia is the only member who was part of the earlier UPA appointed panel and has two years left on his term. However, he was not part of the tribunal’s deliberations on MSG . The censor board had earlier rejected MSG under provisions of the Indian Cinematography Act, 1952 which says “no movie should promote superstition and obscurantism.”

The decision was subsequently referred to a review committee which raised concerns that the film may hurt religious sentiments and cause law and order problems. The FCAT then cleared the film, prompting the resignation of censor board chief Leela Samson. However, former members of the Tribunal say it depends on the initiative of the applicant. “If the applicant states that the film is due for release soon and is able to show a copy of the film to the panel quickly, the deliberations can happen quickly as it is not like a judicial process,” a former member said.

A current member of the Tribunal claimed that some members were also in favour of screening the film with disclaimers in order to protect freedom of expression. “The tribunal has only deliberated on the merits of the objections raised under the Cinematography Act. We have found that the problem will be solved by carrying the disclaimers.”

A source in the I&B ministry told The Hindu that FCAT members are generally people with no connection to the film world though there is nothing in the Cinematography Act which says this is a rule. The last panel was headed by senior lawyer Lalit Bhasin and its members were Congress media coordinator Tom Vadakkan and NGO activist Deepa Dixit.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.