No Coercive Steps: SC Grants Interim Relief To Filmmaker Who Depicted Goddess Kali Smoking A Cigarette
In a big relief to filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, the Supreme Court today ordered that no coercive action shall be taken in relation to the FIRs registered against her in various states for allegedly offending religious sentiments.
The Filmmaker had moved the Supreme Court seeking protection in the multiple criminal cases registered against her for showing Goddess Kali smoking a cigarette in a poster of her upcoming documentary film.
The Bench of CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha directed “No coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner either on basis of the FIRs already registered or pursuant to any other FIR which may have been or will be lodged in relation to the same matter."
“Manimekalai is a leading poet and filmmaker. Her work has been recognized and awarded”, told Senior Advocate Kamini Jaiswal and Advocate-on-Record Indira Unninayar to the Court.
“Where these FIRs have been filed?”, asked the Bench. “There are 6 FIRs. We are told that there are many more”, submitted Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the petitioner.
The States of Delhi, UP (Uttar Pradesh), Uttarakhand, MP (Madhya Pradesh), and several others - registered multiple FIRs / criminal cases against Manimekalai. Also, the State of Madhya Pradesh issued a lookout circular against her.
“The petitioner is a graduate student in Canada. She has produced a short film "Kaali" depicting the goddess. The submission is that there is no intent to hurt religious feelings. The object was to depict the goddess in an inclusive sense. At this stage, it may be noted that the lodging of FIRs in multiple case may be of serious prejudice”, said the Supreme Court.
“Have you filed a 482 petition?” asked the CJI Chandrachud to Senior Advocate Jaiswal, which was answered in negative.
The Court has issued a Notice for consolidation of all FIRs in one place and thereafter, has granted liberty to file a plea for quashing of a criminal case before the High Court.
As per the plea, the filmmaker faced multiple FIRs after she tweeted the poster of her short film ‘Kaali’ which she made as part of her academic project as a student in Canada.
Earlier, a civil court in Delhi issued summons in a civil suit for injunction against the poster and film.
The Apex Court has listed the matter for further hearing on Feb 20, 2023.
Cause Title- Leela Manimekalai v. Union of India & Ors.