10 May 2023 5:23 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on May 12 the petition filed by the makers of the controversial film 'The Kerala Story' challenging the decision of the West Bengal Govt to ban the movie. Senior Advocate Harish Salve mentioned the matter before a bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha seeking urgent listing.Initially, CJI said that he...
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on May 12 the petition filed by the makers of the controversial film 'The Kerala Story' challenging the decision of the West Bengal Govt to ban the movie. Senior Advocate Harish Salve mentioned the matter before a bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha seeking urgent listing.
Initially, CJI said that he will post the matter on May 15, as the petition challenging the Kerala High Court's refusal to stay the exhibition of the film is listed on that day. However, Salve requested for an earlier date, saying that the makers are losing money due to the ban. He further said that another state is also moving to ban the movie. Following this, CJI agreed to list the matter on May 12.
The petitioners also allege that the movie is facing a 'shadow' ban in Tamil Nadu and seek protection for screening the film in the southern state.
On May 8, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee had announced the decision to ban the screening of the movie "to avoid any incident of hatred and violence, and to maintain peace in the state". The Government invoked the powers under Section 6(1) of the West Bengal Cinemas (Regulation) Act, 1954 for this.
Challenging this decision, the film makers have approached the Supreme Court invoking Article 32 of the Constitution, contending that the State Government has no power to ban a movie which has been certified for public viewing by the Central Board of Film Certification. The petitioners contend that the State Government cannot cite law and order issues to stop the screening of the movie, which will result in the violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed to them. The petitioners have also challenged the validity of Section 6(1) of the West Bengal Cinemas (Regulation) Act, 1954 on the ground that it is conferring arbitrary and unguided powers to the State Government.
With respect to Tamil Nadu, the petitioners allege that the exhibitors in the State withdrew the film after the informal messaging by the State authorities.
The movie has courted controversy over allegations that it is tarnishing the entire Muslim community and the Kerala state while portraying the story of women who were recruited to ISIS through deceit.
On May 5, a division bench of the Kerala High Court comprising Justice N. Nagaresh and Justice Sophy Thomas had refused to stay the exhibition of the film. The Court observed that the film only said that it was 'inspired by true events' and that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had 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 had watched the film and that the producers had added a disclaimer that the film was a fictionalised version of events. However, the High Court also 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.