The Supreme Court on Monday extended the relief granted to filmmaker Leena Manimekalai of no coercive action in connection with multiple FIRs registered against her in various states over a controversial poster of her upcoming documentary film showing goddess Kali smoking a cigarette.
The top court clubbed all the FIRs lodged against her in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and transferred them to the Delhi police for investigation.
A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala refused to quash the multiple FIRs but granted liberty to her counsel Indira Unninayar to approach a Delhi court for the quashing.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, said the filmmaker has not appeared before any of the courts concerned and this court may direct her to appear before the court in connection with the FIRs.
“This is all about one film and moreover she is a US citizen and she can appear virtually before the court, if required”, the CJI said.
On January 20, the top court had granted interim relief to Manimekalai in connection with FIRs registered against her in various states over a controversial poster of her documentary film showing goddess Kali smoking a cigarette.
It had issued notices to the Centre, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments on her plea.
Manimekalai’s counsel had submitted she had no intention of hurting religious feelings and the objective of the film was to depict the goddess in an inclusive sense.
In her petition filed through advocate Indira Unninayar, Manimekalai has said her attempt as a creative filmmaker was not to offend the religious sentiments of anyone but to depict the image of a radically inclusive goddess. She said her documentary film shows the broad-minded traits of the goddess.
She has made the four states respondents in her plea along with some individuals.
Manimekalai has challenged the proceedings against her in the district courts of Hazratganj in Lucknow, Ratlam, Bhopal and Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Haridwar in Uttarakhand and Delhi.
The filmmaker has said she has faced death threats and open calls for beheading, after she tweeted the poster of her film. She said the multiple FIRs against her amount to harassment and an infringement of her right to freedom of speech and expression.
“Petitioner is aggrieved at the widespread State action that she has faced after she tweeted the poster of her short film Kaali’ which she made as part of her academic project as a student in Canada.
“She is also aggrieved that instead of taking action against the dangerous cyber violence that she faced thereafter, the State has targeted its actions against her,” the plea stated.