A Mumbai court has remanded Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) CE0 Rakesh Kumar, who was arrested on a bribery charge on Monday evening, to police custody till August 22.
The CBI asked for his custody as they need to investigate the modus operandi Kumar adopted to issue certification of films.
The CBI has found Rs 10.5 lakh and 10 expensive watches in his house and a bank account that is unaccounted for.
The controversial Censor Board chief was arrested by the CBI on Monday in connection with a bribery case, days after two middlemen were nabbed for accepting money on his behalf. A CBI spokesperson confirmed his arrest.
Kumar is the CEO of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), popularly known as the Censor Board. Two middlemen, Sarvesh Jaiswal, a panel member, and Shripat Mishra, an agent for certification, were arrested on Thursday for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 70,000 on behalf of Kumar to give an early clearance certificate to a Chhattisgarhi film Mor Dauki Ke Bihav.
A CBI source said, “Kumar was being questioned for the last four days about the basics of the censorship of a film and other procedures related to certification of films. We will find out if there is a bigger nexus and if this racket has been going on for a long time.”
Kumar, a former Indian Railways Personnel officer, took charge in January 2014. His appointment did not go down well with the film industry because of his comments, which, most felt, were regressive. Industry sources alleged that many officials have taken bribes to clear films. “A film, which released last year and had a lot of sexual innuendos, was cleared after taking Rs 45 lakh,” said the source.
Vikas Mohan, senior vice-president of the Indian Film and Television Producers Council, said, “We always knew there was corruption, but no one had the courage to speak out. This is the first time somebody has exposed corruption in the government-run Board.”
Mukesh Bhatt, president of the Council, added, “Many of my members told me that Rakesh Kumar had exploited them, but were afraid to speak out. It is sad to see that an official has used dubious ways in conducting himself.”
The I & B ministry is expediting the process of selection of a new CEO and regional officer for Mumbai. New panel members will also be appointed by this week.