Censor Board chief charged Rs 1.5 lakh to clear a film in 3 days!
CBI has learnt that tainted CEO Rakesh Kumar had fixed rates for clearing films, taking different amounts depending on the time he took to issue CBFC certificates; also had a budget for small-budget flicks
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which arrested the CEO of the Central Board of Film Certification popularly known as the Censor Board on Monday, found in its investigations that Kumar had a fixed rate card for bribes, in exchange for giving a CBFC certificate to different kinds of films. Kumar allegedly also had agents in place for making these transactions on his behalf.
Kumar was sent to custody till August 22 after he was produced in court yesterday. Pic/PTI
Kumar was sent to custody till August 22 after he was produced in court yesterday. The CBI told the special court that he was charging Rs 1.5 lakh for clearing a film in 3-4 days, Rs 25,000 for screening and clearing it in 7-8 days and Rs 15,000 for clearing small-budget films and documentaries in three days. He even had rates for ad films Rs 2,000 for a three-day clearance or Rs 10,000 for a go-ahead on the same day.
On raiding his house at Badhwar Park, Colaba, the CBI officers found 33 luxury watches of brands like Rolex, Tissot, Rado and Longines, Rs 10.5 lakh in cash and jewellery. They have also learnt that he has two bank lockers and did several cash transactions in his Delhi bank account.
Kumar’s involvement came to the fore after the CBI arrested Shripat Mishra, a Censor Board certification agent, for accepting Rs 50,000 from a producer of a Chhattisgarhi film Mor Dauki Ke Bihav, slated for an August 15 release.
Mishra would pay the money to a panel member, Sarvesh Jaiswal, who, in turn, would pay Kumar for clearing the film. The CEO had allegedly demanded R70,000 for clearing the Chhattisgarhi film, but the producer had negotiated it to Rs 50,000. The CBI said it would check all the movies that were cleared by Kumar ever since he took charge in January.
They will also call producers and directors of some movies in which they find money has been paid. “We are also waiting for some producers to approach us with complaints against Kumar. We have learnt that Mishra was an agent of film producers and he could get films cleared in a short span of time by paying money in CBFC. He would pay Jaiswal who in turn could pay the CEO Kumar,” said a CBI official.
Normally, it takes the CBFC around 15 days to provide a clearance certificate; if any objections are raised, the Board brings it to the notice of the producers and gets the necessary changes made before issuing a certificate. However, if the producer has already committed to a release date, through agents, they approach the CEO to expedite the clearance so as to not renege on their commitments.
A witness has told the CBI that Kumar has accepted around Rs 25 lakh from different agents to clear movies quickly. “Kumar is not cooperating with the investigations. He is trying to fool us by giving vague answers. We are questioning him about the cash flow and are also writing to the banks where he has two lockers,” added the official.
What may nail Kumar is footage of Jaiswal handing over Rs 40,000 cash to him, from another deal, at Infiniti Mall in Andheri, which CBI has managed to get their hands on and will use as evidence in building their case.
Vikas Mohan, senior vice-president of Indian Film and Television Producers Council, said, “This case has come to the fore because of a conflict of interest between Kumar and the agent. The film industry also wants an audience with the Information and Broadcasting ministry.”
The other side
In his defence, Rakesh Kumar has pleaded innocent, saying he was trying to bring transparency in the functioning of CBFC and that there were certain people who were against him and were trying to target him. He also said that film certification is not a single person’s job; an entire committee takes the decision.