The Supreme Court has asked the parties who approached the Court against the movie 'The Kerala Story' to approach the Kerala High Court first, since it is already seized of a plea against the release of the movie.

The Bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha said that "the reliefs which have been sought under Article 32 can well be pursued in appropriate proceedings before the High Court under Article 226. We are not inclined to entertain the petition on that ground. We leave it open to the petitioners to move the appropriate High Court."

The Court also said, "Seasoned judges are manning the high court. They are aware of local circumstances. Why should we become a super 226 Court?".

Advocate Vrinda Grover appeared for Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and submitted that the movie is vilifying a religious community and its contents are being projected as true facts.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve appearing for the movie makers submitted that the Kerala High Court is already seized of the matter.

Grover then submitted that the High Court has listed the case on May 5, which is the release date of the movie.

Another petition filed by Qurban Ali, the petitioner in the case against hate speech, was also mentioned before the Apex Court and the same order has been passed in both cases.

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (acting through Maulana Mahmood Madan), had moved Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution seeking directions to the Central Government to not allow the screening/release of the movie entitled ‘The Kerala Story’ at theatres, OTT (Over The Top) platforms and other such avenues.

The Petition states that the film is slated for release on May 5, 2023, and is likely to cause hatred and enmity between different sections of society in India. It is also stated that the movie demeans the entire Muslim community and if allowed to be released then it will endanger the life and livelihood of the entire Muslim community of our country.

This move by the Muslim Religious body comes after when the Supreme Court refused to entertain a similar plea filed as an IA seeking a stay on the release of the movie "The Kerala Story". Justice Joseph had remarked that for seeking appropriate remedy a substantial writ petition needs to be filed.

The Petitioner alleges that the crux of the trailer is that Hindu and Christian girls in Kerala are being converted to Islam by extremist clerics and trafficked to Afghanistan to ISIS and that even YouTube advises viewer discretion before the trailer starts, acknowledging the violent nature of the movie.

It is further said that the movie highlights that Muslim youngsters play an instrumental role along with the extremist clerics in luring non-Muslims and radicalising them by posing as friendly. "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." reads the petition.

The Muslim Religious body has also contended that the movie promotes the view that love jihad is being used to lure non-Muslim women into converting to Islam and also joining ISIS. However, an investigation by the State police carried out in 2009 revealed that there was no evidence of love jihad in the State of Kerala.

Contending that the movie and trailer are in teeth of the constitutional values of equality and fraternity, the petitioner states that an FIR has already been registered in respect of the film in accordance with the order given by the Director General of Police, Kerala and that even otherwise the teaser, the trailer and the movie grossly violate the statutory guidelines as framed under the Cinematograph Act 1952.

The Petitioners had sought the following relief: (a) Direct the Respondent Nos. 1-3 not to allow the release/screening of the movie entitled ‘The Kerala Story’ at theatres, OTT platforms and other such avenues; and/or (b) Direct that the trailer be removed from the Internet; and/or26 (c) Alternatively direct the Central Board of Film Certification to further identify incendiary scenes and dialogues so that the same may be removed from ‘The Kerala Story’; and/or (d) Alternatively direct that the movie entitled ‘The Kerala Story’ 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 Kerela High Court yesterday refused to pass any interim order. The High Court sought instructions from the Central Board of film certification and has listed the matter on Friday, on which date the movie is scheduled to be released.

Cause Title: Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind & Anr v. Union Of India & Ors

With PTI inputs