Nine board members of India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) have resigned a day after its chief Leela Samson quit alleging interference in the functioning of the film board by the government.
"It is our firm position that given the cavalier and dismissive manner in which the CBFC is treated by the government, it is impossible to perform this duty with even a modicum of efficacy or autonomy," the resignation letter was published on NDTV website.
"This Board has consistently attempted to make the certification process more uniform, transparent, consistent and sensitive to the freedom of filmmakers' right to expression with responsibility. The struggle to do so has been extremely frustrating and disappointing," the letter said.
Samson resigned as the chairman of CBFC on Friday after an appeals tribunal cleared the film, "MSG: The Messenger of God", despite protests and outrage from Sikh organisations. She has however, denied that her resignation was linked to the controversial film.
In an act of solidarity, award winning filmmaker, Shaji N Karun, also resigned from the CBFC expressing "gross dissatisfaction" at the functioning of the body.
The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) reportedly gave clearance MSG, directed by and starring controversial guru, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, despite the CBFC board deeming it "not suitable for public viewing".
India's minister of state for information and broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Rathore, dismissed Samson's claims saying the government, which runs the censorship and appeals process, did not interfere.
"Have faith in the film appellate tribunal. Its job is to make sure that no such content that malign any religion or derogate any religion is put into the film. Have faith into the system," Rathore said.
Meanwhile, several groups representing the Sikh minority that makes up 2 percent of India's population of 1.2 billion demanded a ban on the film, in which they say Singh distorted their scriptures and dressed up as a 17th-century Sikh guru.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies