SC lifts West Bengal ban on ‘The Kerala Story’

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the West Bengal government order banning the film ‘The Kerala Story’.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said the court intends to stay the West Bengal government’s order passed on May 8, banning the screening of the film ‘The Kerala Story’.

The bench, also comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, also directed Tamil Nadu to provide adequate security to every cinema hall for safe screening of ‘The Kerala Story’ and ensure safety of moviegoers, and also the state will not directly or indirectly thwart screening of the film.

During the hearing the bench told senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, representing the West Bengal government, that the state government banned the film on the basis of 13 people, “you get any 13 people they will say ban any movie. Unless you’re showing them cartoons or sports…”

The top court noted that the film has been released everywhere in the country. Singhvi said West Bengal’s demographic is very different and it has to be considered.

The Chief Justice said, “You can’t expect demographic to be the same everywhere…power is to be exercised in proportional way…”

The Chief Justice told Singhvi that you cannot make fundamental rights be dependent on public display of emotion and, “If you didn’t like it, don’t watch the film”.

The Chief Justice told the West Bengal government counsel that steps can be taken by the state government in a particular district in connection with the screening of the movie, if there is an incident, but it cannot be banned across the entire state.

The West Bengal government has told the Supreme Court that the film ‘The Kerala Story’ is based on manipulated facts and contains hate speech in multiple scenes, which may cause disharmony between the communities, while justifying prohibition on exhibition of the movie.

The state government, in a counter affidavit, said if the movie is allowed to be exhibited the same will cause breach of peace which will not be in the interest of justice.

“The movie is based on manipulated facts and contains hate speech in multiple scenes that may hurt communal sentiments and cause disharmony between the communities which will eventually lead to a law and order situation, as has been gauged from various intelligence inputs received by the state government over a period of time,” said the affidavit.

The state government said to maintain public order and for the benefit of the general public, and by exercising its power section 6 (1) of the West Bengal Cinemas (Regulation) Act, it has imposed a prohibition on exhibition of the movie.


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