Friday, December 8, 2023

Madras HC disposes of plea seeking ban on release of The Kerala Story

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The High Court of Madras on Thursday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that sought ban on the release of multilingual film, ‘The Kerala Story’.

The Vacation Bench of Justice A.D. Jagadish Chandira and Justice C. Saravanan dismissed the PIL filed by Chennai-based journalist B.R. Aravindakshan, challenging the certificate given to the controversial film by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

The petitioner contended that the flick had the potential to affect the country’s sovereignty and unity, thus causing disturbance to the public order.

Stating that the movie was an intentional attempt to portray Kerala as a terrorist-supporting state, the petitioner expressed apprehension that if the movie was allowed to be released, it would be a humiliation to the entire country as it would create an impression that India was a country that produced terrorists.

The Madras High Court rejected the PIL after observing that the High Court of Kerala and the Supreme Court had already dealt with the issue regarding the release of the film.

The Bench asked the petitioner how could he assume that the film will create law and order problems without even watching it.

It observed that if the petitioner had come earlier, the Bench could have asked someone to watch the movie and decide.

As per the petitioner, the movie was unfit for certification under Section 5(b) of the Cinematography Act, which prevented certification if any part of the movie was found to be against the sovereignty, security and integrity of the state.

The plea further submitted that the makers of the movie had distorted facts and had claimed that 32000 women have joined the ISIS organisation. It said even the Home Ministry did not have any data on such a large number of persons joining the terrorist organisation.

The Bench asked Aravindakshan whether the movie was based on any empirical data or records. He replied that the Director of the movie had given interviews claiming that the figures were arrived at based on a speech by a former Chief Minister of Kerala.

The petitioner submitted that the filmmakers were claiming that they were uncovering some truths and thus, the film was based on the events happening in Kerala.

Representing the filmmaker, Senior Counsel Satosh Parasaran questioned the maintainability of the plea on the grounds that the Kerala High Court had already given a nod for the release of the movie and even the Supreme Court had rejected relief in a similar petition.

(Case title: BR Aravindakshan vs Union of India and others)

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