Actor Vishal bribery allegations | CBI conducts searches, registers corruption case against unknown CBFC officials, three private persons

The development comes days after Tamil actor-producer Vishal had alleged that he paid about ₹6.50 lakh for the screening and certification of the Hindi version of his film Mark Antony.

Updated - October 05, 2023 03:50 pm IST

Published - October 05, 2023 02:39 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

File picture of Tamil actor Vishal

File picture of Tamil actor Vishal | Photo Credit: SANDEEP SAXENA

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has conducted searches after registering a corruption case against three private persons and unknown officials of Mumbai-based Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

The development comes days after Tamil actor-producer Vishal had alleged that, in Mumbai, he paid about ₹6.50 lakh for the screening and certification of the Hindi version of his film Mark Antony.

Those named as accused in the First Information Report are Merlin Menaga, Jeeja Ramdas, and Rajan M.

According to the CBI, in September, 2023 one of the accused persons conspired with the others to get ₹7 lakh in bribe for arranging a censor certificate from the CBFC for a movie dubbed in Hindi.

“...in furtherance of the said conspiracy, she initially demanded a bribe on behalf of the CBFC Mumbai officials” from the complainant and following negotiations accepted Rs.6.54 lakh through the bank accounts of two other accused.

Thereafter, on September 26, the required certificate was allegedly issued by the CBFC. “It was also alleged that in addition to the said amount, the accused obtained ₹20,000 in her bank account from the account of a private company as coordinating fees for herself. An amount of ₹6.50 lakh was allegedly withdrawn immediately in cash,” said the agency on Thursday.

The CBI said searches were carried out on four different premises, including in Mumbai, of the accused and some others.

On Wednesday, taking cognisance of the allegation, CBFC Chairman, Prasoon Joshi had said that the processes would be further strengthened at the organisational level to eliminate any third-party interference.

Mr. Joshi clarified that the persons mentioned by the complainant were not CBFC officials, but “unauthorised third-party intermediaries”.

The CBFC chief said an aggressive digitisation process, automation, and minimal manual intervention was already in place, but now more measures would be taken. To start with, every document would have to be uploaded at the time of online application only. 

Submission of any physical document in person at a later stage by the applicant would not be allowed. Mr. Joshi listed some other steps, including a grievance redressal mechanism, to be implemented immediately.

On September 29, Mr. Vishal had posted a message on X (formerly Twitter) that he had to pay bribe to get clearance for his movie.

Subsequently, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had deputed a senior official to conduct an inquiry.

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