New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said statutory provisions cannot be used to “put a premium on public intolerance” and stayed the West Bengal government's order banning the movie, "The Kerala Story."
A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud said it is the duty of the state government to maintain law and order as the film has been granted certification by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
“Bad films bomb at the box office,” the bench said.
“The legal provision cannot be used to put a premium on public intolerance. Otherwise, all films will find themselves in this spot,” the bench, also comprising justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala, said during the hearing which is still on.
The states cannot sit in appeal over the grant of certification to the movie, said senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for the producer of the movie.
Salve agreed to clarify in the disclaimer that "there is no authentic data available to back up the suggestion that the figure of conversions is 32,000 or any other established figure."
Salve said nobody has filed any statutory appeal against the grant of certification to the film and referred judgements to buttress his submissions that it was held that the Supreme Court cannot sit in appeal over the CBFC certification.
The top court is hearing cross-pleas with the producer of the film challenging the ban on its screening in West Bengal and the decision by theatre owners in Tamil Nadu to not show the movie in the state while journalist Qurban Ali has challenged the Kerala High Court order refusing to stay the release of the film.
"The Kerala Story", starring Adah Sharma, was released in cinemas on May 5. Directed by Sudipto Sen, the film claims women from Kerala were forced to convert to Islam and recruited by the terror group Islamic State (IS).