NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the West Bengal government to explain the ban imposed on screening of the film ‘The Kerala Story’, saying that the film is being exhibited in the rest of the country and there is no reason why it should be banned over there.
The apex court also asked the Tamil Nadu government accused of shadow banning the movie to explain why it can't ensure safety and security to the film goers and theatre owners.
Taking up a plea by the film makers, a bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and P S Narasimha told senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the West Bengal government, “The film has been released in the rest of the country, West Bengal is no different from any other part of the country."
The court also asked Tamil Nadu's Additional Advocate General Amit Anand Tiwari as to what arrangements have been made to ensure safety for running of the film.
"The state government cannot say it would look the other way while theatres are being attacked and chairs are being burnt. You are duty bound to ensure safety," the bench told TN's counsel.
The court scheduled the matter for consideration on Wednesday.
Appearing for the film makers, senior advocate Harish Salve said the movie ran in theatres for three days in West Bengal.
"If the film can run in peace in other parts of the country, why should the state of West Bengal ban the film? If the public does not find it worth seeing, they will not see the film,” the bench said.
Singhvi, on his part, submitted the state has power to ban the film as there are intelligence reports on law and order problems. He also said the petitioners should be asked to approach the High Court.
"It is running in different parts of the country, which has a similar democratic profile as the state of West Bengal. Why should you not allow a film to run,” the bench asked him.
In their plea, the filmmakers submitted that the state government has no power to ban a movie which has been certified for public viewing by the Central Board of Film Certification.
They also claimed the state government cannot cite law and order issues to stop the screening of the movie. They argued that it will result in the violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed to them. Their plea also raised the issue of shadow ban on the movie in Tamil Nadu.
On May 8, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced the ban on screening of “The Kerala Story” in West Bengal. She has also instructed the West Bengal chief secretary, HK Dwivedi to take the necessary steps on this count.
“Certain scenes in the said film can affect the air of peace and harmony in West Bengal. So, we have decided to ban its screening everywhere in the state including Kolkata and the districts. The decision has been taken to maintain peace and harmony,” the CM told media persons.