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SC agrees to hear on May 12, ‘The Kerala Story’ movie Producer’s plea against WB govt ban on the film


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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on May 12, Friday, the plea filed by the makers of the movie, The Kerala Story, challenging the decision of the West Bengal government to ban the screening of the movie in the State.

Senior lawyer and former Solicitor General (SG) of India, Harish Salve, appearing for the Pfilm Producer’s, said that this is the petition challenging the ban by West Bengal and Tamil Nadu on the movie.

“We are losing money everyday and now another state says they will do the same. Please consider for hearing,” Salve told the Supreme Court.

After hearing the mentining by Salve, the bench of the Supreme Court, heqded by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud, said, we will list it on Friday, and asked him to serve copies on the State of WB.

The makers of the movie, The Kerala Story, had moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday challenging the decision of the West Bengal government to ban screening of the movie in the State.

The West Bengal government had, on May 8, ordered an immediate ban on the screening of the controversial film in the State to avoid “any incident of hatred and violence”.

The plea also challenged the ban imposed on the movie by the State of Tamil Nadu by issuing an “alert” anticipating protests in connection with the release of the film due to which theatres in the State withdrew the film.

Pertinently, the plea challenged the Constitutional validity of Section 6(1) of the West Bengal Cinemas (Regulation) Act, 1954 under which the West Bengal government issued the order banning the film.

The Kerala Story is a Hindi film about a group of women from Kerala who join ISIS. The film was released on May 5.

The West Bengal order stated that the public exhibition of the film “is likely to cause breach of peace” and that an order under Section 6(1) of the West Bengal Cinemas (Regulation) Act, 1954 prohibiting the exhibition of the film in the State was required to be passed “to avoid any incident of hatred and violence in order to maintain peace and law and order situation in the State”.

“Any such ban, it has been repeatedly held, would constitute an unreasonable restriction on the fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India to engage in free speech. The stifling of the right to free speech of the Petitioner, that too on a mere apprehension of unsubstantiated considerations of law and order cannot withstand scrutiny under the Constitutional scheme,” said the petition.

The plea, therefore, also sought directions to the States to provide police protection to theatre owners and the audience for public exhibition of the film.

The Kerala High Court had, on May 5, refused to stay the release of the film. A bench of Justices N Nagaresh and Sophy Thomas, after watching the teaser and the trailer of the movie, determined that it did not contain anything against Islam or Muslims as a whole but was about terrorist organsiation Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Appeal against the same is pending before the top court and will be heard on May 15, Monday.


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