Supreme Court protects filmmaker from arrest over controversial Kaali poster

Leena Manimekalai has multiple cases registered against her in several states for depicting Hindu Goddess Kaali smoking a cigarette in a film.

THE Supreme Court on Friday protected filmmaker Leena Manimekalai from coercive action in the multiple cases registered against her for depicting Hindu Goddess Kaali smoking a cigarette in a film. The court also ordered that no coercive order would be applicable even for any other first information report (FIR) which may be lodged in respect of the same film.

Pending further orders, no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner either on the basis of the FIRs which have been instituted against her, as noted above, or pursuant to any other FIR which may have been lodged or may be lodged hereafter in respect of the same film, the court directed.

A division bench comprising the Chief Justice of India Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narishma issued notice to the Governments of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the Government of National Capital Delhi, seeking their response to the plea seeking consolidation of all the FIRs at one place.

At this stage, prima facie it appears that the institution of FIRs in multiple states would be a matter of serious prejudice to the petitioner,” the bench underlined.

Appearing for Manimekalai, advocate Kamini Jaiswal submitted that there was no intent on the part of Manimekalai to offend religious feelings, and that the object and purpose of her film were to depict Goddess Kaali in an inclusive and all-encompassing form. Jaiswal added that her client is likely to be subjected to coercive proceedings arising out of the same film in diverse states.

A lookout circular has been issued against Manimekalai in Bhopal. Currently based in Toronto, she came under fire from right-wing forces in July last year when she shared the film’s poster via her Twitter account. The poster depicts the goddess Kaali smoking a cigarette and carrying the LGBTQIA+ flag. The poster created uproar within some right-wing organisations and leaders, who claimed that it hurt their religious sentiments.

Click here to view the Supreme Court’s full order.

The Leaflet