The Kerala High Court on Friday refused to stay the release of the Hindutva propaganda film ‘The Kerala Story’, which hit theatres today.
However the Division Bench comprising Justice N. Nagaresh and Justice Sophy Thomas, recorded the submission of the producer that the teaser of the the film, which claimed that over 32,000 women from Kerala were recruited to ISIS, will be removed from their social media accounts, Live Law reported.
The Court declined to stay the release of the film, as it acknowledged that the film explicitly states that it is “inspired by true events.” Additionally, the Court noted that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had approved the film for public viewing. After watching the film’s trailer, the Court said it found nothing objectionable towards any specific community. Furthermore, the Court observed that none of the petitioners had viewed the film, and the producers had included a disclaimer stating that the events portrayed were fictionalized.
“There is something called freedom of speech and expression. They have artistic freedom, we have to balance that also”, Justice Nagaresh orally stated, Live Law reported.
“What is there in the film that is against Islam? There is no allegation against a religion, but only against the organization ISIS”, Justice Nagaresh said.
“This is fiction. There are no ghosts or vampires, but there are a large number of movies showing the same. There are many movies in which Hindu Sanyasis are shown as smugglers and rapists. No one says anything. You may have seen such movies in Hindi and Malayalam. In Kerala we are so secular. There was a movie where a pujari spit on an idol and no problem was created. Can you imagine? It is a famous award winning movie”, Justice Nagaresh orally said.
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appearing for one of the petitioners said that “the impact of film today is much greater on minds of people today than books can ever be.”
“This may create serious public law and order problem” he submitted. “I am also a strong advocate of freedom, but if the freedom is likely to poison minds of innocent people and threaten public order, such freedom must be curtailed’ Dave added.
“Please see what is the purpose of the fiction. Purpose of fiction is to portray Muslim community as villains. Isolated incidents cannot be made to seem like the truth and made into a movie,” Dave said.
Advocates P A Mohammed Shah appearing for one of the petitioners said: “Parents will think I cannot send my children to hostels in which muslim students also stay, they will get converted. That is the impression that they are creating here. They say that only Hindu and Christian girls are being targeted and their parents should be careful. When they say it is a true story, what will be the mindset of the parents?”
Justice Nagaresh asked Sr Adv Ravi Kadam, appearing for the producer of the film, from where did they get the figure of 32,000 women being converted. Kadam replied that the numbers were based on the information which the makers got; however, he agreed to remove the teaser, which made the claim.
The claim about 32,000 ISIS recruitments in the movie was challenged by several Muslim groups and both ruling and opposition parties in Kerala.
Many who are seeking action against the film, called the movie “a Hindutva propaganda” and “a clear form Islamophobia.”