Plea in SC seeking stay on release of 'The Kerala Story'

The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind said the film demeans the entire Muslim community

Poster of the controversial film, set to be released on May 5
Poster of the controversial film, set to be released on May 5


The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has moved the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Centre and others not to allow the screening or release of the film 'The Kerala Story' in theatres, OTT platforms and other such avenues, besides seeking removal of the film's trailer from the internet.

Earlier on Tuesday, the apex court had declined to immediately hear a plea seeking a stay on the release of the controversial movie direceted by Sudipto Sen and produced by Sunshine Pictures.

A bench comprising justices K.M. Joseph and B.V. Nagarathna observed that the censor board has already cleared the movie and the petitioners should rather challenge the film's certification before an appropriate authority.

The bench said that the exhibition of films entails a different process, therefore the plea seeking a stay on the release of the movie cannot be clubbed with hate speech matters. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal and advocate Nizam Pasha urged the bench to hear their plea saying that the movie will release on Friday.

The fresh plea filed by Jamiat said: "The movie is clearly aimed at spreading hatred and enmity between different sections of society in India. The message the movie imparts is that non-Muslim young women are being lured into converting to Islam by their classmates and subsequently, they are trafficked to West Asia where they are forced to join terrorist organisations."

The plea said, "The movie demeans the entire Muslim community and it will result in endangering the lives and livelihoods of the petitioners and the entire Muslim community, and this is a direct infringement under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution."

"The movie gives the impression that apart from extremist clerics who radicalise people, ordinary Muslim youngsters, their classmates, also play an instrumental role in luring non-Muslims and radicalising them by posing as friendly and good-natured people, in accordance with instructions given by extremist scholars," said the plea.

The plea, filed through advocate Ejaz Maqbool, alternatively sought a direction to the Central Board of Film Certification to further identify incendiary scenes and dialogues for removal or show a disclaimer stating that it is a work of fiction and the characters in the movie bear no resemblance to any person living or dead.

The plea said, "The movie promotes the view that love-jihad is being used to lure non-Muslim women into converting to Islam and also joining the ISIS. However, an investigation by the state police carried out in 2009 revealed that there was no evidence of love-jihad in Kerala."

As soon as the teaser of the film was released, the ruling CPI(M)-led Left and the opoosition UDF in Kerala had demanded that the film should not be screened.

The state committee of Muslim Youth League has even announced a reward of Rs 1 crore for the individual who proves the "allegations" levelled in the movie.

A right-wing activist and founder of the Hindu Seva Kendra Pratheesh Viswanath also offered Rs 10 crore to prove the opposite -- that no one from Kerala has gone to Syria to join IS.

The film starring Adah Sharma, Yogita Bihani, Sonia Balani and Siddhi Idnani in key roles traces the journey of four female college students in Kerala who become part of Islamic State.

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