Supreme Court directs filmmakers to add a disclaimer by Saturday, 5 pm

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On May 18, 2023, the Supreme Court of India was hearing the cross-pleas of the theatre owners in Tamil Nadu to not show the movie ‘The Kerala Story’ in the state and another with the producer of the film challenging the ban on its screening in the State of West Bengal. While hearing the arguments of Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal, Huzefa Ahmadi, AM Singhvi, Gopal Sankaranarayan, and Harish Salve, the bench stayed the decision of the State of West Bengal to ban the screening of the controversial film ‘The Kerala Story’ as well as directed the Tamil Nadu government to ensure the security of the moviegoers and cinema halls in the state. During the hearing of the case, it was determined that the State of Uttar Pradesh government has also waived the tax on the film’s ticket. Moreover, the bench asked the filmmakers to ensure that the film carries a disclaimer and directed them to add it by 5 pm on Saturday. He added that the disclaimer should say “There is no authenticated data to back up the suggestion on the figure of conversion and the film represents the fictionalized version.” 

During the hearing, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned that “This is the kind of stuff you’re saying - until you spit on him, you cannot go to Allah. We are all for freedom of speech but this cannot be permitted.” Following this, Justice Pardiwala asked, “Is this a part of the film?”Further, Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi cited certain portions of the movie which were offensive. He highlighted that “The movie starts with ‘fight the non-believers’ said by a Muslim man…Another scene shows Muslim clerics talking about how they can lure Hindu women and take them to Syria, and saying if necessary, they can impregnate them…They also say nationalism is a sin and that being a Muslim is the only identity…Another scene shows remarks against Shiva and Rama. I’m not reading it because I find it difficult to read. These are attributed to a Muslim. The consequences of this hate that is generated, that is to e borne into mind.” He added, “If the film runs its entire course, the damage will be done…Please see the film over the weekend and then decide…Decision also has to be taken for the screening of the film on OTT platforms.” Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said “We’ll first see the film so we can contextualize and then decide.”