Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's government has voted overwhelmingly to defeat a move by the opposition to introduce a bill for freedom of information and greater freedom to the media.
Rajapaksa's party steamrolled the bill presented by opposition lawmaker Karu Jayasuriya who wanted to ensure that the country's media had greater freedoms and better access to official information.
The Bill is to provide for freedom of access to official information; specify grounds on which access may be denied: the establishment of the Freedom of Information Commission: the appointment of Information Officers; setting out the procedure for
making requests for information and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto, said a paper presented to parliament.
For the last few months, there has been unrest brewing within the ranks of the Censor Board members. Ms Dhanalakshmi, the Regional Officer, Central Board of Film Certification, Hyderabad, has been accused of high-handed treatment and verbally abusing
even women members. They say she selectively raids films and doesn't go after top producers as she is unwilling to annoy them. Although, a few big films with objectionable scenes are being screened in the city, she chose to raid only one small
producer and let off the big guns, says a Board member.
Dhanalakshmi has allegedly threatened to scrap the existing 108-member advisory board and recruit new members, who will toe her line. They are complaints that she is breaking tradition by inviting only a select group of members to censor films. The
rotation method entitles members to an equal opportunity, to watch and certify movies, but now it has been discontinued. Only a handful are being chosen and she is depriving others of the chance. She is also thinking of scrapping the advisory board and
recruiting new members and has already taken forms from 25 aspiring members, rues E. Sudhakar Rao, a scribe and Board member.
Shailaja Reddy, a senior member, claims complaints have been lodged with some Members of Parliament and assurances have been received from them. Some have also sought an appointment with Ms Leela Samson, Chairperson, CBFC. We'll apprise her about our
issues, she says.
Ms Dhanalakshmi, Regional officer responded to allegation:
I would never harass another woman. All these stories about me abusing women are cooked up by those who want me fired. I believe in discipline at workplace and some principals of integrity have to be followed. That has made some
members insecure. When they felt threatened, they spread malicious stories about me. None of this is true. The rumour about me planning to abolish the Advisory Board is ridiculous. I don't know from where that news came from. I have never discussed such
an idea. All this is being done only to malign me.
A local citizen, Sohaib Ahmad, has filed a petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) requesting to direct the telecommunications minister to control circulation of obscene literature on Internet.
The petitioner's counsel, Fahad Ahmad Siddiqui, stated that the popularisation of Internet by the government was a welcome step as it gave easy excess to information. However, he said that for the youth the path was full of dangers, as they had to browse
through junk e-mails that lured them towards websites containing obscene material. It was very difficult to contain the rain of smut on the Internet and protect children from it, the petitioner said.
Siddiqui said that being an Islamic state, Pakistan's constitution laid down the principle that the government had to take steps to enable Muslims to live their lives in accordance with the fundamental principles and basic concepts of Islam.
He stated that it was undertaken in the constitution that the state shall take necessary steps for social justice, eradication of social evils and shall prevent prostitution, gambling, use of injurious drugs, printing, publication, circulation and
display of obscene literature and advertisements.
He requested that directions be issued to the Ministry of Telecommunications to place a permanent ban on the circulation and display of obscene literature and advertisements on Internet, urging that they should be permanently blocked or banned in
Pakistan for displaying pornographic material.
Update: Court passes on request to ban internet porn
A court has issued notices to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Religious Affairs Ministry to respond to a writ petition seeking a permanent ban on access to pornographic websites .
Taking up a petition filed by a man named Sohaib Ahmad, Lahore High Court Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmed Khan directed the respondents to file their replies within a month.
Fahad Ahmad Siddiqui, the lawyer representing Ahmad, sought the ban on pornographic websites by saying that the state religion of Pakistan is Islam and it has been undertaken in the Constitution that steps shall be taken to enable Muslims of the
country to make their lives in accordance with the fundamental principles and basic concepts of Islam .
Siddiqui said the Constitution made it clear that state would take necessary steps for social justice and eradication of social evils and prevent prostitution, gambling and taking of injurious drugs, printing, publication, circulation and
display of obscene literature and advertisements .
Siddiqui had requested the court to ban the circulation and display of obscene literature and advertisements through these websites, which must be permanently blocked. He asked the court to direct the government to draft a regulation to monitor cyber
porn traffic in the country.
India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has launched a facility allowing online access to the censor certificate and the list of cuts, of every new release. Simultaneously, a facility where producers can apply for the censor certificate
online was also launched by the board.
Audiences can now access the service by logging on to the CBFC's website
cbfcindia.gov.in . Not only can film-goers familiarise themselves with the cuts that have been imposed on the film, they can also snitch on cinemas that illicitly show uncut prints.
The decision to make such a facility available was taken by the CBFC board after new chairperson Leela Samson took over on April 1, 2011.
The move means that prior to the release of the film, as soon as the producer is issued the censor certificate, along with the list of cuts, the same will be made accessible to the public online. The details of every visual or audio byte that has to be
censored will be part of this information
The cuts information is very extensive. Eg for the UA (Parental Guidance) version of Slumdog Millionaire , the cuts are listed as:
1 Muted The word "MADARCHOD" said by Inspector to young boy Jamal.
2 Deleted the visuals of man burnt by another person and two young boys watching.
3 Deleted the visuals man burnt and running on the street.
4 Deleted the visuals of boy and girl in sexual position.
5 Deleted the visuals two persons entering the room where boy and girl in sexual position and driven out
6 Deleted the visuals of man slapping and saying "BJENCHOD".
7 Deleted the visuals of man pouring brunt oil in the boys eyes
The new Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairperson Leela Samson plans to revamp the body. Not only will the board's logo undergo a change, it will sport a new name and will deal strictly with violent and vulgar content in regional films.
When I took over as chief, the first thing I noticed was the logo---it appeared like a sliced film to me. It denoted a certain aggressive intent that baffled me. This is not the credo of the organization, she claimed.
The CBFC's logo is being redesigned by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and Samson wants the information and broadcasting ministry to rename the censor board as the Indian Board of Film Classification. The role of the board must move from
certification to classification, she feels. Classification is about identifying, recognizing and catering to the needs of different audiences that will help the film industry to reach out to its target consumer, Samson claimed.
...BUT... Samson has decided to take censorship measures to reduce violence in regional cinema and vulgarity in Bhojpuri films: We are concerned about the growing trend of violent regional films. Also, it has been brought to my notice that some
Bhojpuri film songs are objectionable. Corrective measures need to be taken.
Apprehensive of Saffron party's possible ire, this scene showing a Bal Thackeray poster is cut from Anurag Kashyap's latest film, Shaitan
This image of a Bal Thackeray poster was the cause of all the drama. Anurag Kashyap, the producer was asked to edit out a scene containing a poster of the Sena supremo that was shot as part of a chase sequence.
The reason given by the Censor Board was that they did not want the political party to create law and order problems upon the film's release.
Pakistan's government has imposed an unannounced ban on a book written by slain journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad.
The book, Inside Al-Qaida and the Taliban, Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 , is unavailable at all leading book stores, with the shop owners saying its sales had been banned by the government.
Pakistan Today contacted the publishers, Pluto Press of London, to inquire about the ban. Pluto Press' Sales Director Simon Liebesny said via e-mail that they could not deliver any statement in the current situation as their shipment for Pakistan was
under process with the UK Customs.
Pluto Press said the book was launched on May 20, 2011. It wrote in the description of the book that:
President Obama has delivered on his campaign promise to kill Osama bin Laden, but as an al Qaeda strategist, bin Laden has been dead for years. This book introduces the new generation of al Qaeda leaders who have been behind the
most recent attacks. Shahzad, an investigative reporter, had a level of access to al Qaeda and the Taliban that Western journalists could only dream of. He had interviewed many top-level strategists and fighters in both movements on multiple occasions in
Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Jordan. In Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban he uses first-hand accounts and his own local knowledge to build up a convincing and compelling picture of the aims and motivation of the leaders and fighters in radical
movements. This is a version of the war on terror that has never been told. It will fascinate anyone concerned with the strategy and tactics of the most controversial Islamic movements.
The managements of cinemas in Hyderabad are crying foul as the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has put the blame squarely on them for screening films without the required censors cuts.
CBFC advisory panel members from the regional office in Hyderabad seized prints of the Ravi-Teja starrer film Veera . The prints showed additional uncensored footage that had not been approved for screening.
The CBFC then lodged a complaint with the police against the Odeon theatre management and the film producer.
Though the law places the onus of verifying the cuts on theatres, theatre managements blame the producers who try to outwit the censor board. Producers routinely send film prints without making appropriate cuts or modifications. In the eyes of the law,
it is theatre managements who are held responsible if a movie is screened without censor cuts.
Producers, however, have their own line of defence. Sometimes by oversight we may send prints without making censor cuts. Producers do not send such prints intentionally. In such cases, a producer is usually warned and let off.
The recently-released Indian film Sarhad Ni Paar Mari Radha has prompted muslim protests. The film revolves around a love story in the backdrop of the India-Pakistan rhetoric.
The objection has come from the All India Minority Cell, Loktantrik Janata Front, New Delhi. The Muslim body has demanded that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi immediately ban the film from public
screening in its present form to avoid tension between the communities.
The group has also raised questions of the CBFC: It is unbelievable to discover how blindly the Central Board of Film Certification gave its nod to screening of the film for public viewing without anticipating the possible threats. The film contains
highly objectionable, inflammatory and provocative scenes and dialogues that go against the religious traditions and emotions of minorities, states the cell, in a press release.
The release says that if the screening is not banned, the group will petition the high court.
India's I&B ministry has appointed new members to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) including theatre artist Amal Allana, scriptwriter Anjum Rajabali and filmmaker Shaji N Karun for a term of three years.
Besides Allana, the list has a few famous theatre artistes like Arundhati Nag and M K Raina. Poetess Mamang Dai, author Dipesh Mehta and Ira Bhaskar -- a professor of Cinema Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University -- have also made it to the panel. Noted
filmmaker and actor Pankaj Sharma and Bengali film director Harnath Chakraborty are other members from the film fraternity who have been appointed as new members.
Earlier this year, noted Bharatanatyam dancer Leela Samson had been appointed chairperson of CBFC, while noted Delhi-based lawyer Lalit Bhasin was made chairperson of the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal.
Forty-odd members of India's Central Board of Film Certification have raised the banner of revolt against Ms Dhanalakshmi, the regional officer of the CBFC, and have submitted a memorandum to the MP, Mr Srinivasa Reddy, seeking action against her.
They accuse her of being undemocratic and biased. They claim that she is favouring big producers and that some films are getting away with lip-locks, skimpily-clad women, and gory scenes.
A majority of our members are upset with her unprofessional behaviour. Nearly 40-odd members met Mr M. Srinivasa Reddy, and he was shocked at our disclosures and assured necessary action. We'll also meet some more MPs and Ms Leela Samson, the
chairperson, CBFC, in our pursuit to unseat her, said Ms Sailaja Reddy, a member of the censor board. The members also allege that corruption is seeping in and producers have to cough up between 10,000 and '5 lakh to get their films past the board
with least cuts.
However, Ms Dhanalakshmi, denies all allegations: Our work has been transparent, so all these allegation like favouring big filmmakers and the rest are unfounded and false.
It's been over a month since Pakistan's Central Board of Film Censors was devolved into the Punjab Censor Board and Sindh Censor Board.
Earlier, the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) worked under the federal ministry of culture. After the passing of the 18th Amendment, however, the screening of films became a provincial matter, and the power to give clearance to the screening of films
went to the Punjab Censor Board and the Sindh Censor Board.
The rules and regulations, however, are yet to be finalised and both these boards have so far just been dealing with the censoring of local films.
The CBFC is still giving permission to Indian and Hollywood films for screening after censoring them. This means that the CBFC gives clearance certificates to any film to be screened across the country. The rules are yet to be made, and it may be
possible that an Indian or Hollywood film is allowed to be screened in Karachi and banned in Lahore, as two different censor boards will censor the film, an official from the CBFC told The Express Tribune.
So far, though, the situation is different. He said that Punjab and Sindh are both censoring local films, and if a film gets a clearance certificate from either of the two boards, it can be screened countrywide.
The Economist magazine has accused India of hostile censorship after officials prevented the distribution of the latest edition because of a map showing the disputed borders of Kashmir.
Customs officers ordered that 28,000 copies of the weekly magazine should have stickers placed over a diagram showing how control of Kashmir is split between India, Pakistan and China. Both India and Pakistan claim the whole of the Himalayan region and
have gone to war twice over its control since 1947. New Delhi imposes tight restrictions on all maps, insisting they show all of Kashmir as being part of India.
The map appears next to the front-page story of the latest edition of the magazine on The world's most dangerous border between India and Pakistan.
Kashmir is divided between the two nuclear-armed neighbours along a de facto border known as the Line of Control. It closely matches the frontline of fighting at the end of the first India-Pakistan war over Kashmir in 1947.
The map is impartial, accurate and fair. We show everyone's claims, and it is also realistic as it shows where the unofficial border actually falls, John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of The Economist said.
The Economist still hoped to distribute the edition once the stickers had been added.
Three scenes featuring sexual language and gestures in Ragini MMS have come under the scissors of the Indian Censor Board.
The film is being touted as the sensuous paranormal flick about a young couple who go to spend an intimate vacation at a farm house which is rigged with secret cameras.
The Censor Board found three scenes too much for public viewing. One of the scenes has the film's male lead Raj Kumar Yadav describing quite graphically to Kainaz Motivala, who plays his girlfriend, the after-effects of taking an aphrodisiac. In another
scene, he makes a demand of oral sex from her. In yet another scene, there is a clear-cut reference to male and female genitals.
The Censor Board told the makers of Ragini MMS to chop off these three scenes and gave an A (Adults Only) certificate to the film.
The Lahore High Court has directed the government to submit the complete judicial record in connection with the issue of blasphemy on facebook and remarked that it would not be accepted at any cost.
The petitioner Muhammad Azhar Siddieque arguing before the court said that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Ministry of Communication completely has failed to detect the blasphemy on internet and especially on facebook.
The petitioner said some people who had their agenda to disgrace Mohammed and to defame the dignity of Islam. He prayed before the court to issue notice to the concerned authorities on the negligence on their part. He also prayed that PTA and Ministry
for communication be directed to ban facebook on permanent basis.
The court will sit again on May 10 for further proceedings.
The online porn comic www.savitabhabhi.com was a huge sensation while it lasted. In June 2009, it caught the government's eye and was blocked. But the Indian porn icon didn't die. Last year, a film titled sheetalbhabhi.com was made to cash on the
Now it is at loggerheads with the Indian Censor Board.
Their first objection was with the title, says Mahendra Dhariwal, the film's creative producer. I told them that it was approved by the Indian Motion Picture Producers' Association. That's when the Board passed it.
The film's promos that show a poster of a woman who looks strikingly similar to Savita Bhabhi also became a problem. They didn't mind it being shown in the film, but didn't want it in the promos. I don't get it; why the double standards? he says.
But the biggest obstacle the filmmakers faced was for the dialogue Bhabhi mera aap ke saath sone ka sapna kab pura hoga? (when will my dream of sleeping with you be fulfiled?) . The line was eventually removed from the film, which is now slated to
release on May 13.
The comedy film has very little in common with the website that it is named after, www.savitabhabhi.com.
Bangladesh's cabinet has approved the country's first ever pornography law.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government said it would introduce a draft law in parliament to make production and distribution of pornography punishable by up to ten years in jail.
The law is likely to be passed after being debated by parliament.
A government spokesman said: We hope the new law will prevent immoral behaviour , adding that pornography had become a social disease .
Earlier this year, a married television actress was forced to go into hiding after a video was circulated online showing her having sex with her lover. Last month, another video hit the Internet showing a popular female host of World Cup cricket coverage
having sex with an unidentified man. Police said the existing laws did not enable them to prosecute those involved in making or passing on the videos.
April 2011 saw the enactment of Information technology Rules Act 2011 which introduce internet censorship to India.
The new repressive rules massively curtail freedom of internet speech and have left many offended as it destroys the internet as a platform of speech and beliefs.
The Act says that any statement that threatens the unity, integrity; defense, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states or public order is to be censored from the web. The act is very vague and is likely to invoke even more
controversy in days ahead.
The new rules empower any official or private citizen to demand the removal of content that they consider objectionable on the basis of long list of criteria prepared by the information department.
The Department of Information Technology is empowered to block any site that displays any disparaging material. Article 19 of the Indian constitution allows for 'reasonable' restrictions. These restrictions have been used so far to ban books, movies on
sensitive subjects like sex, politics and religion. India has also been famed for condemning speeches by famous personalities as seditious.
As part of India's Information Technology (Guidelines for Cyber Cafe') Rules, 2011, cyber cafe' owners are now required to make an effort to stop users from accessing pornographic or supposedly obscene websites.
According to The Times of India, cyber cafe's were notified on April 11th of a ruling requiring them to register with a government agency to ensure their adherence to the new guidelines.
In addition to monitoring porn, the new rules make it mandatory for Internet cafe' owners to install a filtering software and keep a log of all websites accessed by customers for at least one year. It also states that users will be required to present an
identity card before being given access to a public computer. Additionally, building cubicles with a height of more than four and half feet will also be disallowed.
Cyber cafe' owners will be asked to give user logs to the registration agency every month.
If there's a segment that indicates how poorly thought out India's finalized Internet control rules are, it is sub-rule 2 and 4 of the segment pertaining to Intermediaries in the country's finalized Information Technology rules.
Sub Rule 2 states that Users shall not host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, update or share any information that is grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, libellous, invasive of another's
privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically objectionable, disparaging, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise unlawful in any manner whatever;
Additionally, Sub Rule 2 also states that users may not publish anything that threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states, or or public order or causes incitement to the commission of
any cognisable offence or prevents investigation of any offence or is insulting any other nation.
Sub rule 4 states that
(4) The intermediary, on whose computer system the information is stored or hosted or published, upon obtaining knowledge by itself or been brought to actual knowledge by an affected person in writing or through email signed with
electronic signature about any such information as mentioned in sub-rule (2) above, shall act within thirty six hours and where applicable, work with user or owner of such information to disable such information that is in contravention of sub-rule (2).
Further the intermediary shall preserve such information and associated records for at least ninety days for investigation purposes.
Even as the formation of the 13-member regulatory body to monitor Indian television content in channels is in its final stages, the government is keen to retain the final say as far as content goes.
According to a government source:
The regulatory body, the Broadcast Content Complaints Council (BCCC), will be ready by the first week of May. It will get 21 days to act on any complaint. The information and broadcasting ministry will wait-and-watch over the
functioning and will step in and ask the BCCC why it hasn't acted within the stipulated time.
Any member of the public can complain to the BCCC, which will be headed by a retired Supreme Court or high court judge and will comprise four members from the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), four eminent civil society
personalities, one member each from National Commission for Women, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, and a representative from the affected party..
The BCCC's mandate is to censor supposedly objectionable, sensitive and vulgar TV content.
The cinema film Dum Maaro Dum has secured the Delhi high court's green signal for its release after the film's makers assured that it would blur some scenes at an air hostess training institute.
Dum Maaro Dum's release was objected to by Frankfinn Airhostess Training Institute which had sought damages worth Rs35 lakh from director Ramesh Sippy for allegedly depicting it in a negative manner in the movie.
In a civil suit to the court, the institute had contended that one of the characters, shown as its student in the film, was given a negative role which tarred the image and reputation of the institute.
The character in the film does not show a student of Frankfinn in a good light. This film does not help in any way to maintain the good reputation and image of the company, the air hostess training institute told the court seeking removal of
certain scenes in the movie.
The company also sought removal of the institute's uniform, the logo and any other similar trademark in the film.
A protest levied in Goa against Rohan Sippy's latest release Dum Maaro Dum has calmed down post release of the film as localites of Goa were seen happy after watching the film.
Political parties and women's organizations were protesting against the film, accusing the filmmaker of tarnishing the image of Goa and Goan women and using derogatory scenes and dialogue.
Just a handful of protesters were seen outside multiplexes in Goa displaying placards and singing songs. Panaji Police had provided tight security outside multiplexes on Friday expecting trouble and an untoward situation.
Movie buffs who watched the film stated that the film does not portray Goa in a negative light as its promos have hinted. Pramod Acharya, journalist stated that the film was entertaining and it contains facts.
A society promoting Hindu Vedic traditions has approached the Madras High Court with a plea that the Union government and Central Board of Film Certification be directed to revoke the censor certificate issued to Tamil film Sattapadi Kutram ,
produced by S.A. Chandrasekaran.
According to the petitioner, the film contains several scenes hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus. Members of the petitioner's society were shocked while watching the movie in which one of characters, dressed as a Hindu sannyasi/guru wearing
saffron clothes was involved in illegal, deceitful, immoral and dishonest activities, the petitioner said.
it has been stated that scenes depicting Hindu ascetics as terrorists and police killing them in an encounter hurts the sentiments of the Hindus world-over.
The producer and director of the film had created the character with a mala fide intention to hurt the religious feelings and faith of Hindus, the petitioner added.
HDS alleged that there were scenes that depicted the judiciary in bad taste too: The director had been highly irresponsible in his unwarranted interference with the judiciary .
The scene in which a corrupt High Court judge is kidnapped by the youth and threatens him to deliver judgments according to their whims and fancies was also criticized by the High Court Judge Jyothimani.
The petitioner sought a court direction to the director of the film to remove all unwarranted scenes from the film.
The Hindu serial nutter Rajan Zed has taken the opportunity of a new Indian film censor to call for censorship.
He has urged Leela Samson, the newly appointed chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) of India, to halt the 'unnecessary' violence and 'vulgarity' of Indian films.
He claimed that seeing the continuous increase in the vulgarity and violence in Indian films, it appeared that the Board of the largest filmmaking country had lost the sense of India's cultural milieu and was ignoring the directions given in the
Zed, who is the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that they were fully supportive of the artistic freedom and expression and did not want any unnecessary censorship ...BUT... were highly concerned about the increasing presence of
the immodest, explicit and risque' scenes in the movies which were there simply for mercantile greed having nothing to do with cinematic elements.
Rajan Zed appealed to Samson to view the films as a regular Indian mother who was struggling to raise her children to become moral and successful citizens of India of tomorrow and not as the mother whose children attended night-clubs and late-night
parties and knew no moral boundaries.
Zed pointed out that CBFC certification team needed to be retrained in what India stood for and what were our moral perimeters.
By mid April, a panel headed by a retired judge with the mandate to monitor television channels will be in place.
It will report on sensitive and supposedly vulgar content on television. This panel will also take up public complaints regarding any 'objectionable' content on TV, ministry sources said.
A watershed period or time for adult viewing will be fixed from 11 pm to 5 am. Watershed hours will have content that is meant for selective viewing which may not necessarily mean adult content. So naturally it's not a free-for-all situation, the
At present, the I&B ministry has facilities to record programmes of 300 TV channels on a 24-hour basis and store recorded content up to a period of 90 days.
Even as the Gujarat government banned the book on Mahatma Gandhi by Joseph Lelyveld that has run into controversy for references suggesting he was a bisexual and a racist, the Centre is now mulling a law that would make showing any disrespect to the
Father of the Nation an offence punishable with a jail term.
Sources in the Law Ministry said the ministry had been asked to suggest amendment to the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, so as to make any action or gesture that shows disrespect to Gandhi an offence at par with an offence against the
National Flag or the Constitution.