As Madras High Court dismisses plea to ban ‘The Kerala Story’ in Tamil Nadu, police take precautions

Scheduled to be released on 5 May, the film apparently tells the story of women radicalised, forced to convert, and join a terrorist group.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published May 04, 2023 | 9:15 PMUpdatedMay 04, 2023 | 10:49 PM

As Madras High Court dismisses plea to ban ‘The Kerala Story’ in Tamil Nadu, police take precautions

The Madras High Court on Thursday, 4 May, dismissed the public interest litigation seeking a ban on the controversial movie The Kerala Story, which claims to depict the forced conversion and radicalisation of thousands of women from Kerala.

BR Aravindakshan, a journalist based in Chennai, filed a petition seeking a ban on releasing The Kerala Story in Tamil Nadu, stating that the movie might disturb the prevailing communal harmony in the state and cause disturbance to public order.

The petitioner submitted that he had obtained certain information under the Right to Information Act of 2005 from the Union Home Ministry on 5 November, 2022, on the year-wise data from 2014 to 2022 of Hindu women who had converted to Islam in Kerala and joined the terror organisation called the Islamic State group.

He submitted in court that the Home Ministry replied that not a single case had been registered by India’s investigative agencies in connection with love jihad.

He also submitted that the Central Board of Film Certification had confirmed that the movie’s trailer, which was released on YouTube, had not been issued any censor certificate.

Stating that a movie that was claiming that the story was based on true events being allowed to release for public view would have an adverse impact on the minority community in the society, he prayed that the court ban it because it was spreading false propaganda.

Related: Censor Board gives ‘A’ nod to ‘The Kerala Story’, with cuts

What the court said

Admitting the case, a Bench comprising Justices AD Jagadish Chandira and C Saravanan asked that when the matter was already heard by the Kerala High Court, how could they pass orders on the case, and that too at the last moment.

The judges opined that when the petitioner was aggrieved about the release of the movie, he should have approached the concerned tribunal under Section 5C of the Cinematograph Act.

To this, the petitioner’s counsel Alim Albuhari replied that they had been continuously approaching the concerned authorities since November last year against the movie.

The judges also said that if the petitioner had come earlier, they could have nominated someone to watch the movie and decided on the next course of action.

However, that was impossible now, and also the Supreme Court and the Kerala High Court had heard the matter, they observed.

When the state’s opinion was sought, the advocate representing the Tamil Nadu government said: “I am not in favour of the petitioner or against the respondent.”

The judges dismissed the petition and told the petitioner that he may watch the movie after its release, and if he found anything objectionable, he was free to approach the court.

Also read: Exhibitors adopt ‘wait and watch’ strategy with ‘The Kerala Story’

Police take precautionary measures

The Kerala Story, scheduled to be released on 5 May, has already led to a lot of speculation about controversies and unrest.

For example, the Tamil Nadu intelligence police have sent a note to the government stating that the release of the movie might disturb the tranquillity and peace of the state.

Claiming that law and order problems could arise due to the release of the movie, the state intel recommended that the government ban the screening of the film.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu DGP C Sylendra Babu has instructed the commissioners and superintendents of police to give adequate security to all theatres screening the movie because the police expect agitations and protests in front of them.