"Film 'Kaali' seeks to portray the goddess in an inclusive sense": SC records while ordering no coercive action against Leena Manimekalai

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The filmmaker shared a poster and a video clip of Goddess Kaali smoking on Twitter to promote her documentary called “Kaali.”

The Supreme Court today ordered that no coercive action be taken against Filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, who had posted an allegedly derogatory poster, which showed Goddess Kali smoking a cigarette, for promoting her documentary 'Kaali'.

Manimekalai had moved the Supreme Court last week seeking to quash the FIRs registered against her for the said post.

Senior Advocate Kamini Jaiswal, appearing on behalf of Manimekalai, informed the bench that the petitioner before the court is a leading poet and filmmaker whose works have been awarded.

CJI Chandrachud then asked Jaiswal as to where these FIRs had been filed against Manimekalai.

To this, Jaiswal responded by saying, "UP, MP, Uttarakhand, and Delhi; a total of 6 FIRs."

"Ms. Jaiswal submits that a lookout circular has also been issued against the petitioner and these are the FIRs that the petitioner is aware of...", the bench also comprising Justice Narasimha further noted.

Court further noted in its order that the petitioner had made a short film, Kaali, on the goddess which sought to portray the goddess in an inclusive sense and ordered thus,

"At this stage, we issue notice to the respondent states. No coercive action is to be taken against the petitioner in these FIRs or any others that may be registered against her."

Manimekala's case was mentioned on last Friday before a CJI Chandrachud led bench which had ordered to hear the matter on January 20.

In her plea, the filmmaker also sought protection in the different cases registered against her. She submitted before Court that she had tried to project "the goddess as radically inclusive and kind in her short performance documentary where she performed as the goddess Kaali". 

In July Last year, the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operation Unit of the Delhi Police had filed an FIR against Manimekalai over the alleged derogatory poster.

It may be noted that a police complaint had also been filed by Advocate Vineet Jindal against Manimekalai in this regard.

According to Jindal's complaint, the poster was highly condemnable and derogatory to Hindu beliefs and sentiments. It had been alleged in the complaint that the filmmaker had hurt Jindal’s religious sentiments by showing Goddess Kali smoking.

The complaint noted that showing Goddess Kali smoking is highly objectionable and is not acceptable in any manner and that the act of posting such content is deliberate, malicious and intended to outrage the feelings of the Hindu community.

Jindal further alleged that posting such content on social media and all public platforms, amounts to offences under Sections 295A, 298 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act.

The complaint sought for lodging of an FIR under the above-mentioned sections. It further sought a ban and removal of the photo and video clip from the internet on an immediate basis.

Case Title: Leena Manimekalai vs. Union of India and ors