'The Kerala Story' row: SC stays Bengal ban, directs TN to ensure security of moviegoers

Directs makers to add disclaimer that film is 'a fictionlised version'


In a major relief for the makers of The Kerala Story, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the West Bengal government's ban on the film. Mamata Banerjee's government was the first to implement ban on the controversial movie that revolves around conversions and alleged radicalisation of young women.

A bench headed by Chief Justice DY 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). 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.

The SC also addressed the situation in Tamil Nadu where multiplexes had banned screening of the film. In the counter filed by Tamil Nadu, it was stated that the screening of the film has not been directly or indirectly prohibited within the state. Responding to the plea against the ban, Chandrachud directed the Tamil Nadu government to provide additional security for movie goers who want to see the film. “No steps shall be taken by TN or its officers or instrumentalities including police to prevent screening of film,” CJI said, Live Law reported.

The CJI also directed the makers to add a disclaimer that the film is 'a fictionlised version of subject matter'. Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the film producer, agreed to clarify in the disclaimer that "there is no authentic data available to back up the suggestion that the figure of conversions is 32,000 or any other established figure".

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).