The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed disinclination to consider an interlocutory application seeking a stay on the release of The Kerala Story on grounds that the film promotes hate speech, Live Law reported. It suggested the petitioner to approach the High Court first.
An interlocutory application is filed in a proceeding after the court has commenced hearing on it.
The application was mentioned on Tuesday by advocate Nizam Pasha before a bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna, which is hearing a group of petitions seeking action against instances of hate speech.
Directed by Sudipto Sen, The Kerala Story claims that more than 32,000 women from Kerala had been converted to Islam and recruited by the terrorist group Islamic State. It will be released on May 5.
Pasha told the bench that the film is the “worst instance of hate speech” and an “audio-visual propaganda”, reported Live Law.
The judges said that the film has been cleared and certified by the Central Board of Film Certification.
“There are varieties of hate speeches,” the Supreme Court said, according to PTI. “It is not like a person getting on the podium and starts giving uncontrolled speech. If you want to challenge the release of the movie, you should challenge the certification and through the appropriate forum.”
Justice Joseph suggested that the court cannot interfere unless the certification is challenged in a substantive petition.
Pasha, however, contended there was no time left since the movie is scheduled to release on Friday.
“This is not a ground,” the bench then said, according to PTI. “Otherwise everyone will start coming to the Supreme Court.”
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who also joined the hearing, said that he will approach Chief Justice DY Chandrachud on Wednesday with a substantive petition.
Meanwhile, a petition filed before the Kerala High Court on Tuesday contended that the teaser of the movie contained hate speech and was an insult to the state, reported Bar and Bench. The producers of the movie, however, argued that the Central Board of Film Certification has granted them clearance before releasing the teaser.
Advocate Kaleeswaram Raj, appearing for the petitioner, argued that censor board gave the certificate on a partial evaluation of the movie and sought a certificate for the teaser of the movie. To this, the High Court sought the response of producers of the movie about clearance from the censor board. The matter will next be heard on May 5.
On Sunday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that The Kerala Story was the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-led Sangh Parivar’s propaganda to project the state as a centre of religious extremism by raising the bogey of “love jihad”.
“Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory peddled by Hindutva organisations that claim there is an organised plot by Muslim men to seduce Hindu women and convert them to Islam. It has been rejected by courts, investigative agencies and the Union home ministry.