The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a plea by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind seeking a direction to the Centre and others not to allow the screening or release of the movie entitled ‘The Kerala Story’ at theatres, OTT platforms and other such avenues, and also that the trailer should be removed from the Internet.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said it cannot allow the Supreme Court to become a “super Article 226 court” (a super high court) and entertain everything raised using Article 32. Article 226 provides for high courts to issue instructions or writs to government authorities.
Advocate Vrinda Grover mentioned the Muslim body’s plea before the court and submitted that the Kerala High Court was not hearing the matter before the film’s release on May 5. Grover argued that they are vilifying the community and marketing it as the truth and also, they do not have a disclaimer also that this is a work of fiction.
Senior advocate Harish Salve pointed out that the Kerala High Court is already seized of the matter. The Chief Justice asked petitioners to move the Kerala High Court which is hearing similar matters and said the high courts are manned by seasoned judges and Kerala High Court judges are aware of local situations.
The counsel, representing the Muslim body, said the apex court can ask the high court to hear the cases relating to the release of the film on May 4. The film is slated for release on May 5.
After hearing submissions, the top court said the relief sought under Article 32 can be pursued before the high court and “we do not entertain it on this ground and we grant liberty to the petitioners to move the high court. The high court can take this up for early hearing…”
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court declined to immediately hear a plea seeking a stay on the release of the controversial movie ‘The Kerala Story’.
A bench comprising Justices K.M. Joseph and B.V. Nagarathna observed that the censor board has already cleared the movie and the petitioners should rather challenge the film’s certification before an appropriate authority. This bench is currently hearing matters in connection with hate speeches. The bench said that the exhibition of films entails a different process, therefore the plea seeking a stay on the release of the movie cannot be clubbed with the hate speech matters.
The fresh plea filed by Muslim body said: “The movie is clearly aimed at spreading hatred and enmity between different sections of society in India. The message the movie imparts is that non-Muslim young women are being lured into converting to Islam by their classmates and subsequently, trafficked to West Asia where they are forced to join terrorist organisations.”
The plea said, “The movie demeans the entire Muslim community and it will result in endangering the life and livelihood of the petitioners and the entire Muslim community in our country and this is a direct infringement under Articles 14 & 21 of the Constitution.”
“The movie gives the impression that apart from extremist clerics who radicalise people, ordinary Muslim youngsters, their classmates, also play an instrumental role in luring non-Muslims and radicalising them by posing as friendly and good-natured, in accordance with instructions given by extremist scholars,” said the plea.
The plea, filed through advocate Ejaz Maqbool, alternatively sought a direction to the Central Board of Film Certification to further identify incendiary scenes and dialogues for removal or show a disclaimer stating that it is a work of fiction and the characters in the movie bear no resemblance to any person living or dead.