South Asia Censorship News

2013: April-June

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Update: Vulgar Censorship...

India bans Comedy Central 10 days for supposedly vulgar and obscene content

Link Here 26th May 2013
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

Comedy Central has been banned for ten days for airing supposedly obscene and vulgar words and being derogatory to women.

Stating multiple clauses that the channel has breached, the I&B Ministry asked Comedy Central to go off air from May 25 till June 4 for a comedy broadcast during Stand Up Club and Popcorn programmes on May 26 and July 4 last year.

The order issued by Delhi High court claimed that the programme showed a stand up comedian mouthing supposedly vulgar words accompanied by obscene and suggestive gestures and gyration.

Jokes during his performance supposedly denigrated women, indecently and crudely referred to sex organs of men-and women and the sing-song rendition by the man sought to pornographically describe male lust, whilst depicting women as a commodity of sex.

The second case was an episode from the reality show titled Popcorn wherein members of the Comedy Central crew are seen playing pranks on the general populace. In this case, one of the Comedy Central crew members was seen mimicking the act of intercourse with a set of dummy legs, in different locations.

Update: Ban stayed

28th May 2013. See  article from

A division bench of the Delhi High Court has stayed an order of the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry that prohibited transmission and re-transmission of the television channel, Comedy Central.

The HC bench stayed the order after hearing Sujeet Jain, executive vice-president, of Viacom, who had challenged the ban.



The Not So Fast and The Furious...

A stalled reorganisation of film censorship in Pakistan leaves cinemas without new films

Link Here 22nd May 2013

Over the course of two weeks, Pakistan's film industry has lost millions of rupees after the caretaker government dissolved the culture ministry and hence the Central Film Censor Board without actually appointing an alternative censor. The reorganisation intends to decentralise film censorship in Pakistan and pass the responsibility to the provinces.

It is still being debated whether a CBFC has a role in censoring national or foreign films while the provincial censors could be limited to censoring regional films.

After weeks of cinema losses, the caretaker set-up in Sindh notified that the Sindh Board of Film Censors will now be active and announced that Zulfiqar Ramzi will be its honorary chairman. In the absence of a federal censor board, the Sindh censor certificate will apply to all of Pakistan.

Distributors say several major films including The Great Gatsby, Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Yeh Jawani Deewani and Fast and the Furious have all been delayed. Zorraiz Lashari of the Film Distributors Association said:

Everybody is suffering. They should call it a careless government instead of a caretaker government... We are being forced to use the same films over and over.



Slaves to Easy Offence...

Pakistani Fashion Designer's 'Be My Slave' Shoot Called Racist

Link Here 13th May 2013
A magazine photo shoot for an emerging fashion designer's collection has touched off anger throughout Pakistan for its depiction of a dark-skinned child serving as a slave to a fair-skinned model.

The clothing collection on display in the Be my Slave spread published in Diva magazine issue 106 is by Aamna Aqeel, who made her debut at Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi in April 2013. Aqeel has maintained that she wanted the shoot to spark debate on child labor, and she is supporting and educating the young boy featured in the photos.

But with bonded slavery and racism very real problems facing Pakistan, some have accused Aqeel of engineering the photos with the intent to shock and gain publicity for her brand.

In a post on her Style Inn blog, entertainment journalist Usama Hamayun criticised the slave theme:

Her collection [at Fashion Pakistan Week] received very good reviews and I for one liked her collection as well. But this shoot disgusts me. Playing with such an insensitive theme in a country where racism and bonded labour are critical issues is not acceptable or aesthetically pleasing by any means. You can be fashion forward and push the envelope but above pics are simply tasteless and offensive.



India's Snooper's Charter...

India starts rolling out state surveillance of internet and telecoms

Link Here 9th May 2013

The Indian government last month quietly began rolling out a project that gives it access to everything that happens over the country's telecommunications network---online activities, phone calls, text messages and even social media conversations.

Called the Central Monitoring System, it will be the single window from where government arms such as the National Investigation Agency or the tax authorities will be able to monitor every byte of communication.

After the Mumbai blasts in November 2008, the government has been arming itself with powers and technology to help it eavesdrop on digital communications. The information technology law, enacted in 2000 and amended twice in 2008 and 2011, gives designated government officials the authority to listen in on phone calls, read SMSes, emails, and monitor websites.

However, Pavan Duggal, a Supreme Court advocate specialising in cyberlaw, said the government has given itself unprecedented powers to monitor private internet records of citizens. This system is capable of tremendous abuse, he said. The Central Monitoring System, being set up by the Centre for Development of Telematics, plugs into telecom gear and gives central and state investigative agencies a single point of access to call records, text messages and emails as well as the geographical location of individuals.

Work on the system has been kept under wraps for nearly two years. Several government agencies have issued tenders seeking specialised equipment and systems for such monitoring. The program is currently said to be running in a preliminary state, and should be fully in place by August of 2014.


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