The CBI reportedly caught Prashant Kumar — the censor board officer accused of demanding bribes to issue a certificate — and two others red-handed.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on Wednesday, 29 November, that it had arrested a regional officer (RO) of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and two others in Bengaluru in a bribery case.
The accused — RO Prashant Kumar, Ravi Kumar, and Kamanna — were said to have been caught red-handed by the CBI officers while accepting a bribe of ₹12,000 on Tuesday.
Ravi Kumar works as a technical assistant and Kamanna is a security guard at SRV Studio, located in Malleswaram in Bengaluru.
One Nagaraju AV had filed the complaint with CBI on Tuesday alleging that the RO had demanded a bribe of ₹15,000 through a private person — identified as one Prithvi Raj — to issue a censor certificate to rectify minor issues relating to subtitles for the Kannada film Adavi.
After taking the complaint, the CBI laid a trap on Tuesday and arrested the RO and the two others. The probe agency also recovered the ₹12,000 — being given as a bribe — from the accused.
A security guard who was not named in the FIR may be made the fourth accused in the case.
After the arrest, the accused trio were taken to the CBI office in the early hours of Wednesday. The probe agency also took the three accused for medical examination before they were produced in court.
There, the CBI sought judicial custody of the three accused on the grounds that its officials had to collect more evidence from the regional office of the CBFC in Bengaluru.
Since Prashant Kumar was the head of the regional office, he might tamper with the evidence and influence witnesses if he or the others were granted bail, the CBI submitted in court.
Following the submission made by the CBI, the Bengaluru court remanded the accused to judicial custody for 14 days.
The CBI, meanwhile, registered a case against the accused persons under Section 120 B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and Sections 7, 7A, and 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988 (as amended in 2018).
In a similar incident, Tamil actor Vishal, whose film Mark Antony‘s Hindi version was released in North India on 28 September, had levelled allegations of corruption against the Mumbai office of the CBFC.
Vishal had alleged that certain people from the CBFC unit in Mumbai demanded ₹6.5 lakh to watch the Hindi version of Mark Antony and grant it a certificate.
Incidentally, Vishal on 28 November shared on his X account that he visited the CBI office in Mumbai as part of the investigation in that case.
Just finished my visit to CBI office in Mumbai for an enquiry regarding the CBFC case. Was a complete new experience and am glad the way the enquiry is being conducted. Took some inputs too about how a CBI office would look like. Lol. Never ever thought in my life I will be going…
— Vishal (@VishalKOfficial) November 28, 2023
Meanwhile, following the arrest of the censor board officer in Karnataka, the Kannada film industry is yet to react to it.