The Supreme Court today sought to know the rationale behind ‘The Kerala Story’ movie being banned in West Bengal when it is running across the country without any problem.
“Why should West Bengal ban the movie? It is running in the rest of the country including in states having similar demographic composition and nothing has happened. This has nothing to do with the artistic value of the film,” observed a bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha, and issued notices to West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
Though the movie has not been banned in Tamil Nadu, theatre owners have decided not to screen it over law and order concerns, a move that the makers claimed was a “de facto ban”.
Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the West Bengal government, cited intelligence inputs to claim there may be a law and order problem.
The court also sought to know about the security provided to theatres screening the movie in Tamil Nadu. It told the state’s counsel that the government cannot look the other way when theatres are attacked.
The matter has been posted to next Wednesday.
The Sudipto Sen directorial sparked controversy with its claim that 32,000 women in Kerala were forced to convert to Islam and they joined ISIS, which the Opposition alleged was a false claim.
West Bengal was the first state to ban ‘The Kerala Story’. In a notification on Monday, the government said it has prohibited the movie’s screening to avoid “any incident of hatred or violence to maintain law and order in the state.”
The makers of the movie had challenged the Bengal ban in the Supreme Court, citing they were losing money every day.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said the movie was aimed at defaming the state of Kerala and condemning its people. She also targeted the BJP for “creating communal politics”.
‘The Kerala Story’, produced by Vipul Shah, depicts how a group of women were allegedly forced to convert to Islam and recruited by the ISIS terror group.
The movie stirred a political storm with the Opposition parties alleging that 32,000 women joining ISIS is an exaggerated figure.
While the movie faced obstacles in Opposition-ruled states, it received tax reliefs in BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.