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Muslim body moves SC seeking stay on release of 'The Kerala Story'


Published on: May 2, 2023 | Updated on: May 2, 2023

Supreme Court of India (PTI)

New Delhi: A Muslim body on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to not allow the screening and release of the movie "The Kerala Story" at theatres and on OTT platforms.

The Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind said the film, which is slated to be released on May 5, is likely to cause "hatred" and "enmity between different sections of society" in the country.

Earlier in the day, a bench of justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna refused to entertain a plea filed in the hate speeches case that sought a stay on the release of the movie, saying the petitioner can approach the high court or appropriate forum as the film has been certified.

The Jamiat in its writ petition filed through advocate Ejaz Maqbool said, "The movie demeans the entire Muslim community and it will result in endangering the life and livelihood of the petitioners and the entire Muslim community in our country and this is a direct infringement under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India."

It said the movie demeans the entire Muslim community, particularly the Muslim youth, and it will result in endangering the life and livelihood of the entire community in the country. This also is a direct infringement under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India, the Jamiat said in its petition.

The plea said the crux of the movie's trailer is that Hindu and Christian girls in Kerala are being converted to Islam by extremist clerics and trafficked to Afghanistan to ISIS while outwardly friendly Muslim youths classmate abet the same by luring them.

The Muslim body beside seeking stay of the release of the movie also sought direction that the trailer be removed from the internet; and/or alternatively direct the CBFC to further identify incendiary scenes and dialogues so that the same may be removed from 'The Kerala Story' film.

It also sought a direction that the movie be released with 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 petition said, "It is relevant to note that YouTube advises viewer discretion before the trailer starts, acknowledging the violent nature of the movie. 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, trafficked to West Asia where they are forced to join terrorist organisations," it said.

The Muslim body further said 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, in accordance with instructions given by extremist scholars.

"Moreover, it is falsely stated that 32,000 girls have left Kerala for West Asia to join ISIS even though the United Nations, the Union Home Ministry, police sources and experts agree that the number of Indians who left to join ISIS is around 66 and the maximum number of pro-ISIS persons who may have shown inclination towards ISIS is in between 100 and 200," it said.

Referring to a BBC report from November 10 last year, the petition said the number of women who had converted and joined ISIS in Kerala was 10-15, as per local police sources.

The plea said in 2012, the chief minister of Kerala stated in the legislative assembly that 7,713 persons were converted to Islam during 2006-2012 as against 2,803 conversions to Hinduism.

"Among those converted to Islam during 2009-12, as many as 2,667 were young women of which 2,195 were Hindus and 492 were Christians. He categorically stated that there were no forced conversions," it said.

"The movie promotes the view that love jihad is being used to lure non-Muslim women into converting to Islam and also joining ISIS", it said.

The plea claimed an investigation by the Kerala Police in 2009 revealed that there was no evidence of love jihad in the state, and the police has constantly been of the view that no such conspiracy exists to convert non-Muslims.

"The National Investigating Agency in 2018, concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that women in Kerala were being forced to convert to Islam. The NIA examined 11 out of the 89 cases that were in the database of law enforcement authorities. It was found that there existed no evidence of love jihad", it said.

The plea added that an FIR has already been registered in respect of the film in accordance with the order given by the Kerala Director General of Police, and the false assertion that around 32,000 girls have gone missing and joined the ISIS is "malicious propaganda".

It said the movie and the trailer are in teeth of the constitutional values of equality and fraternity, and the petitioner submits that even otherwise the teaser, the trailer and the movie grossly violate the statutory guidelines as framed under the Cinematograph Act 1952.

"Therefore, even on the said basis the teaser, the trailer and the movie cannot be permitted to be released and circulated. Hence, the present writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India is being filed before this court because the movie 'The Kerala Story' is being released in four languages in the entire country and only this court has jurisdiction before the entire country," the plea said.