The West Bengal government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that The Kerala Story is based on “manipulated facts and contains hate speech in multiple scenes” and that it may cause communal disharmony, reported Live Law.
The government was responding to a petition by the filmmakers, who have challenged the ban on the film in West Bengal.
The film, directed by Sudipto Sen, was released on May 5. It claims to depict how women from Kerala were converted to Islam and recruited by Islamic State terrorist groups. The filmmakers initially claimed that 32,000 women from Kerala had joined the Islamic State, but when asked for evidence, they altered the trailer to state the movie was a “compilation of the true stories of three young girls”.
On May 8, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that the government would ban the film, and claimed that it was made to defame the state of Kerala.
On Tuesday, the state government defended the ban and told the top court that it took the decision after invoking its statutory power under Section 6(1) of the West Bengal Cinema Regulation Act 1954.
The West Bengal government also questioned why the producer approached the Supreme Court, bypassing the Calcutta High Court. It also highlighted that the Supreme Court had earlier refused to entertain the petitions filed against the film, asking those petitioners to approach the concerned High Court.
The filmmakers, on the other hand, argued that the state government has no power to ban a movie that has been certified for public viewing by the Central Board of Film Certification, reported Live Law.
The filmmakers have contended that the state government cannot cite law and order concerns to prevent the screening of the movie, as this would violate their fundamental rights.
Last week, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud had questioned the West Bengal government’s decision as he noted that the film was running without problems elsewhere in the country.
The makers of The Kerala Story have also argued before the Supreme Court that the Tamil Nadu government has imposed a shadow ban on the film. However, on Tuesday, the state government said that the film was removed from theatres due to poor response from the audience.