The Supreme Court on Friday sought the State of West Bengal’s response in a plea challenging the State’s decision to ban webbing of the film The Kerala Story.

The Court also sought a reply from the State of Tamil Nadu which, as per the movie makers, has assessed ban.  

A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha orally remarked that the movie had been released in the rest of the country and West Bengal wasn’t different. 

The Court further stated that it would not pass any order without hearing all parties first and therefore, sought the response of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

The case will now be heard on May 17, Wednesday.   The top court was hearing a plea filed by the makers of the movie challenging the decision of the West Bengal government to ban webbing of the movie in the State and also assailing the de facto ban by Tamil Nadu.   During hearing, Senior Advocate Harish Salve appearing for the filmmakers said that the pleaders were seeking  voiding of the West Bengal order.   Farther, he also sought directions for protection in Tamil Nadu.   Ameet Naik and Madhu Gadodia are representing the filmmakers.   Appearing for the State of West Bengal, Senior Advocate AM Singhvi argued that the court has in analogous cases asked pleaders to move the High Court in analogous pleas. Thus, the same ought to be done in this case.  “We’ve entered huge number of intelligence reports,” he added.  

The Court, still, orally remarked that the movie has been screening in other States including places with analogous demographic profile as West Bengal and hence, West Bengal cannot claim to be any different. 

 The Kerala Story is a Hindi film about a group of women from Kerala who join ISIS. The film was released on May 5.   Indeed before its release, the film invited review from several  agencies. In Kerala, the ruling party and the opposition Congress party contended that it’s a propaganda movie promoting a fake narrative and a docket of right sect organizations.  

The West Bengal government had, on May 8, ordered an immediate ban on the webbing of the controversial film in the State to avoid “any incident of abomination and violence”. 

 The plea besides challenging the ban, also challenged the Constitutionality of Section 6(1) of the West Bengal Playhouses( Regulation) Act, 1954 under which the West Bengal government issued the order banning the film.  

The West Bengal order stated that the public exhibition of the film “ is likely to beget breach of peace ” .  The exhibition of the film in the State was needed to be passed “to avoid any incident of abomination and violence in order to maintain peace and law and order situation in the State”.   The plea before the top court also that the State of Tamil Nadu had issued an “ alert ” anticipating  demurrers in connection with the release of the film, due to which theatres in the State withdrew the film.  

The Kerala High Court had, on May 5, refused to stay the release of the film. A bench of judges N Nagaresh and Justice Thomas, after watching the teaser and the  caravan of the movie, determined that it didn’t contain anything against Islam or Muslims as a whole but was about terrorist organsiation Islamic State of Iraq and Syria( ISIS).  

An appeal against the same is pending before the top court and will be heard on May 15, Monday.   The Madras High Court on May 4 rejected a public interest action( PIL) seeking a ban on the movie on the ground that the Kerala High Court was  formerly hearing a  analogous challenge and that the petitioner had approached the Court at” the last hour”.   The Supreme Court also refused to  intrude with the release of film or to pass any other orders.

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