Kaali poster row: Supreme Court provides reprieve to filmmaker from arrest

The reprieve came to her from a Bench of Chief Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha after she recorded a statement in the court.

Jal khambataUpdated: Friday, January 20, 2023, 07:05 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday protected filmmaker Leena Manimekalai from arrest and other coercive processes in connection with multiple criminal cases lodged against her in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other places over a poster of her documentary film featuring a woman dressed as Goddess Kaali and smoking.

Did not intend to hurt religious sentiments: Filmmaker

The reprieve came to her from a Bench of Chief Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha after she recorded a statement in the court that she did not intent to hurt the religious sentiments of anyone and that depiction of the Goddess as to show her in an "inclusive sense."

The Bench issued notices to the states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh to club the FIRs pending at one place and list the petition on February 20.

No action to be taken by airport authorities: SC

As regards the look-out circular (LoC) issued by the Madhya Pradesh Police against Manimekalai since she is a Canada-based filmmaker, the court said no action will be taken by the airport authorities regarding the circular too.

The order said: "Multiple FIRs in several states will be a matter of serious prejudice. We issue notice to all FIRs consolidated at one place and then the petitioner will be at a liberty to file a plea under Section 482 CrPC that enables a person to move the concerned High Court to quash the FIRs.

Twitter had pulled down the poster, filmmaker faced flack

Advocate Kamini Jaiswal appeared for the filmmaker, born in Madurai, who shared the poster of "Kaali" with Twitter in July 2022 and said the documentary was part of the "Rhythms of Canada" segment at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. While Twitter pulled down the post, there was a widespread fury on social media, prompting the Indian High Commission in Toronto to ask the authorities in Canada for removal of the posters.

'Kaali' is a moview about Manimekalai in whose body goddess Kaali inhabits and roams around the city streets. In a scene, the goddess in her body shares a cigarette with a homeless man.

"In rural Tamil Nadu, Kaali is believed to be a pagan goddess. She eats meat cooked in goat's blood, drinks arrack, smokes beedi and dances wild...That is the Kaali i had embodied for the film," said Manimekalai, in an interview to The Guardian, identifying herself as bisexual and atheist.

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