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SC refuses to entertain plea against ‘The Kerala Story’, says must be very careful about staying films

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to entertain for a third time a petition challenging the CBFC certification granted to controversial movie ‘The Kerala Story’, saying courts must be very careful while staying exhibition of films.

The top court observed producers have invested money in the film and actors have dedicated their labour, and it is for the market to decide if the movie is not up to the mark.

The film on alleged radicalisation and conversion of young Hindu women to Islam in Kerala, before inducting them into terrorist outfit Islamic State (IS), is scheduled for release on May 5.

The plea seeking a stay on its release was first mentioned on May 2. The apex court refused to entertain the plea which said it is a “worst kind of hate speech” and an “audio-visual propaganda”.

On May 3, the matter was again mentioned for urgent listing but the apex court declined to entertain it and asked the petitioners, including ‘Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind’, to move the high court.

Today, senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner, mentioned the matter out of turn, contending the acting chief justice of the Kerala high court said he will assign a bench but the bench could not take up the matter.

“Your lordships had said that we can approach the HC to look into urgency of matter and constitute a bench. Bench was constituted by they said they could only take up tomorrow,” Ahmadi said.

Taking note of his submissions, a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said the high court has already applied its mind and passed a very detailed order declining to stay the movie.

The bench said the Central Board of Film Certification has already certified the film.

“Look at it from the perspective of the film producer. How many times does he face challenges? At the end, somebody has invested money and the actors who have acted in the film have dedicated their labour. We must be very careful about staying exhibition of films. The market will decide if it is not up to the mark,” the bench, also comprising Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala said.

A public interest litigation (PIL) was moved in the Kerala High Court on Tuesday against certain statements in the teaser and trailer of the film. It sought setting aside the certificate for public display given to the movie by the censor board.

The high court had, after hearing brief arguments, listed the matter for hearing on May 5, the day set for the release.

It had also given time to the counsel appearing for the Centre and the censor board to obtain the CBFC’s stand on the plea before the next date of hearing.

The petitioner in the PIL before the high court has urged the court to direct the movie’s director Sudipto Sen, its producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah and the production company Sunshine Pictures to redact or remove, prior to the film’s release, certain statements, particularly the ones that say the film was inspired by true stories and that 32,000 women from Kerala were converted to Islam and had joined the Islamic State (IS). (PTI)

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