The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday issued notice to West Bengal and Tamil Nadu states for ban and 'shadow ban' on The Kerala Story film. The SC was hearing the writ petition filed by the makers of the film challenging the ban and screening restrictions on the film.
The makers also alleged that there was a 'shadow' ban in Tamil Nadu and sought protection for screening the film in the southern state. Though TN government has not banned the movie, the theatre owners decided not to screen the movie over law and order issues. The makers called it a 'shadow ban'.
The bench comprising Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha posted the matter to next Wednesday for hearing counter arguments.
"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 on 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 not worth seeing, they will not see it. It is running in other parts of the country which have similar demographic profile as West Bengal. Why should you not allow a film to run," CJI asked, reported LiveLaw.
While appearing for the producer of the film, senior advocate Harish Salve said that the West Bengal chief minister banned the movie after three days of the film's release without any issues. Even in Tamil Nadu, the film is facing a "de facto ban", he said.
Meanwhile, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, argued that there are intelligence reports regarding threats of law and order issues in the state.
Singhvi also pointed out that the State has power under Section 6 of the West Bengal Cinemas (Regulation) Act 1954 to ban the film.
The Kerala Story, directed by Sudipto Sen, narrates the ordeal of three women who are trafficked to the IS terror camp after being converted to Islam. The film has sparked off a political outrage with the opposition parties including Congress and the ruling CPI (M) in Kerala calling it as an "RSS propaganda" to defame the community.
The Trinamool Congress government banned the movie to "maintain peace" and avoid incidents of "hatred and violence" in the state. "Why did they make 'Kashmir Files'? It was meant purely to humiliate a particular section of society. What is The 'Kerala files'? It is a distorted story," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said.