5 May 2023 7:17 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Friday refused to stay the release of the controversial film 'The Kerala Story', which hit theatres today.However the Division Bench comprising Justice N. Nagaresh and Justice Sophy Thomas, recorded the submission of the producer that the teaser of the movie, which claimed that over 32,000 women from Kerala were recruited to ISIS, will be removed from their social...
The Kerala High Court on Friday refused to stay the release of the controversial film 'The Kerala Story', which hit theatres today.
However the Division Bench comprising Justice N. Nagaresh and Justice Sophy Thomas, recorded the submission of the producer that the teaser of the movie, which claimed that over 32,000 women from Kerala were recruited to ISIS, will be removed from their social media accounts.
Refusing to stay the release of the film the Court observed that the film only says it 'inspired by true events'. The bench also noted that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has certified the film for public viewing. The bench also watched the trailer of the film and opined that there was nothing offensive to any particular community in it. The bench also noted that none of the petitioners has watched the film and that the producers have added a disclaimer that the film is a fictionalised version of events.
"There is something called freedom of speech and expression. They have artistic freedom, we have to balance that also", Justice Nagaresh orally stated while refusing to grant an interim order.
“What is there in the film that is against Islam? There is no allegation against a religion, but only against the organization ISIS”, Justice Nagaresh orally remarked during the hearing.
The bench on the request of the petitioners, viewed the trailer in open court today. "This is fiction. There are no ghosts or vampires, but there are a large number of movies showing the same." the Court remarked during the hearing. "There are many movies in which Hindu Sanyasis are shown as smugglers and rapists. No one says anything. You may have seen such movies in Hindi and Malayalam. In Kerala we are so secular. There was a movie where a pujari spit on an idol and no problem was created. Can you imagine? It is a famous award winning movie", Justice Nagaresh orally said.
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appearing for one of the petitioners stated that “the impact of film today is much greater on minds of people today than books can ever be. This may create serious public law and order problem” he submitted. “I am also a strong advocate of freedom, but if the freedom is likely to poison minds of innocent people and threaten public order, such freedom must be curtailed” Dave added. Dave urged the court to bear in mind the constitutional ideal of fraternity while examining the matter. “Fraternity in society is very important, it is part of the basic structure”.
The court remarked that the film was not based on historical facts that it was merely a story, to which Dave responded, “Please see what is the purpose of the fiction. Purpose of fiction is to portray Muslim community as villains. Isolated incidents cannot be made to seem like the truth and made into a movie.”
Sr. Adv. George Poonthottam submitted that the theme of the film to project Kerala as a centre of all terrorist activity. However the court stated “after all this is a fictional story. Merely because some religious head is shown in bad light, it cannot be basis to ban the movie.”
Advocates P A Mohammed Shah appearing for one of the petitioners stated that "Parents will think I cannot send my children to hostels in which muslim students also stay, they will get converted. That is the impression that they are creating here." He went on to state, "they say that only Hindu and Christian girls are being targeted and their parents should be careful. When they say it is a true story, what will be the mindset of the parents?". Advocate Kaleeswaram Raj submitted that this is a novel case where the Court was being called upon to consider whether hate speech could be in the form of art.
Sr Adv Ravi Kadam appearing for the producer of the film stated that they have put a disclaimer and stated that it is a work of fiction. "It is only 'inspired' by true events. In a film, things are always dramatized. Otherwise no one will watch it."
Justice Nagaresh asked Kadam from where did they get the figure of 32,000 women being converted. Kadam replied that the numbers were based on the information which the makers got; however, he agreed to remove the teaser, which made the claim.
The film, 'The Kerala Story', claims to be based on true events that took place in the state of Kerala, where Hindu and Christian girls were trapped in "Love Jihad," and converted to Islam and sent on missions to Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan on behalf of ISIS. The movie is about the journey of four college-going females from Kerala who end up joining the Islamic State.
Separate pleas had thus been moved in the High Court seeking a stay on the release of the movie. Advocate Kaleeswaram Raj appearing on behalf of one of the petitioners, Adv. Anoop V.R., had averred that the film which claims to be based on true stories, "diminishes the dignity of the State and people as a whole, and is an insult to the State". Advocate Rakesh K. appearing on behalf of another petitioner Thamannah Sulthana, submitted that the film intended to "malign the mindset of the general public", and had a "serious detriment insofar as the maintenance of law and order is concerned". A similar plea has also been moved by the State Secretariat member of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), C Syam Sundar represented by Advocates P A Mohammed Shah, Renoy Vincent, Shahir Showkath Ali, Chelson Chembarathy, Muhamed Junaid V and Shilu Sebastian.
Senior Advocate Ravi Kadam, Adv Ameet Naik, Adv. Madhu Chaudhary, Adv. Sujoy Mukherjee, Adv. Nithyaesh Natraj and Adv Shilpa Soman appeared for Vipul Shah, the producer of the film. Sr Advocate Sreekumar, Adv. Thomas Anakkallunkal, Adv. Vaibhav Venkatesh and Adv. Vijay V Paul appeared for the production company, Sunshine Productions.
The Court vide its Order dated May 2, 2023 had sought the response of the Centre and the Producers of the film.
Case Title: Adv Anoop V.R V State of Kerala and other connected matters
Live-updates posted from the hearing can be seen in the Twitter thread given below :
The Kerala High Court is set to hear the petitions challenging the release of the film 'The Kerala Story'. #KeralaHC #TheKeralaStory pic.twitter.com/k7OvXip4Xq— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) May 5, 2023
The Kerala High Court is set to hear the petitions challenging the release of the film 'The Kerala Story'. #KeralaHC #TheKeralaStory pic.twitter.com/k7OvXip4Xq