Why should you not allow a film to run? SC questions West Bengal govt on The Kerala Story

SC also says the film is released in the rest of the country. West Bengal is not different from other parts of the country

| Updated: 12 May, 2023 6:08 pm IST
Supreme Court of India (TNI photo by Subham Tiwari)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court issued notice to West Bengal on a writ petition against banning the controversial The Kerala Story in the state.

Hearing a plea filed by the producer of the movie, Sunshine Productions, against the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government, the SC bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha questioned, “Why should West Bengal not allow the film to run?”

Appearing for the producer, Sunshine Productions, senior advocate Harish Salve said, “On the date of the release of the movie, the Chief Minister of West Bengal made a statement against it, saying that it is against a community and the exhibition can cause law and order problems. The state banned the film after it ran for three days without any problems.”

Salve further said that in Tamil Nadu, the film is facing a “de facto ban”, as the exhibitors have withdrawn the movie after threats.

Appearing for the West Bengal government, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “In all other matters relating to the same film, the Supreme Court had asked the parties to approach the high court, and the producer should also be asked to approach the high court to maintain discipline.”

Singhvi also said that there are intelligence reports regarding threats to law and order.

On hearing the arguments, CJI DY Chandrachud said, “The film is released in the rest of the country. West Bengal is not different from other parts of the country. If it can run in other parts of the country, why should the State of West Bengal ban the film?”

“If the public does not think that the film is worth seeing, they will not see it. It is running in other parts of the country that have a similar demographic profile as West Bengal. Why should you not allow a film to run?” CJI Chandrachud remarked.

Speaking with The New Indian, Biswajit Deb, senior advocate and Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson, said, “It is the decision of the honourable Supreme Court. So far as the ruling of the Supreme Court is concerned, I have nothing to say. But I can say there is no interim order.”

“If there had been an interim order today directing the state of West Bengal to allow the movie to be released, then that would have been a different subject altogether. But the Supreme Court preferred to hear all the parties before the final order, which means prima facie the supreme court is not satisfied at this particular moment whether an interim order should be passed or not,” Deb said.

“We had repeatedly said on behalf of the state of West Bengal that it (the movie) has sufficient potential to incite violence. To maintain peace, the state of West Bengal decided not to allow this movie to run in theatres. We are concerned about our state. To resist and stop any untoward incidents, the government of West Bengal decided to ban this movie,” the senior advocate adds.

Meanwhile, Sukanta Majumdar, BJP state president, said, “This ban is not as per the law. This was done because the honourable Chief Minister wanted to please a few fanatics. As a result, this will increase the interest of people in seeing the movie.”

The Apex Court on Tuesday agreed to hear on May 15 a petition challenging an order of the Kerala high court refusing to stall the screening of the film ‘The Kerala Story’, which was released on May 5 and subsequently withdrawn from theatres in Tamil Nadu and banned in West Bengal.

On May 8, the West Bengal government banned The Kerala Story under the guise of avoiding any incidents of hatred or violence.

The Kerala Story, a movie based on the indoctrination of girls by ISIS released on May 5, created a lot of controversy.

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