New Delhi: Staying the West Bengal government's ban on the controversial movie 'The Kerala Story', the Supreme Court on Thursday said statutory provisions cannot be used to put a premium on public intolerance.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud said it is the duty of the state government to maintain law and order as the film has been granted certification by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), news agency PTI reported. Bad films bomb at the box office, the bench said. "The legal provision cannot be used to put a premium on public intolerance. Otherwise, all films will find themselves in this spot," the bench, also comprising justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala, said during the hearing which is still on.
Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the producer of the movie, said the states cannot sit in appeal over the grant of certification to the movie. Salve said nobody has filed any statutory appeal against the grant of certification to the film and referred judgements to buttress his submissions that it was held that the Supreme Court cannot sit in appeal over the CBFC certification.
The top court is hearing cross-pleas with the producer of the film challenging the ban on its screening in West Bengal and the decision by theatre owners in Tamil Nadu to not show the movie in the state while journalist Qurban Ali has challenged the Kerala High Court order refusing to stay the release of the film. "The Kerala Story", starring Adah Sharma, was released in cinemas on May 5. Directed by Sudipto Sen, the film claims women from Kerala were forced to convert to Islam and recruited by the terror group Islamic State (IS).
West Bengal was the first and only state to ban the film accused of spreading 'fake hate propaganda '. The movie claims to narrate the ordeal of three women who are trafficked to ISIS camps. However, its makers first claimed the number was 32,000. A massive controversy erupted around the film after its trailer claimed that 32,000 women from Kerala had gone missing and joined the terrorist group ISIS. However, in the face of protests, the contentious figure in the trailer was later withdrawn. Its trailer description was later changed to a story of three women from Kerala.