“Clear abuse of process of law”, Madras HC quashes FIR filed against documentary on manual scavenging, Kakoos
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“Clear abuse of process of law”, Madras HC quashes FIR filed against documentary on manual scavenging, Kakoos

Meera Emmanuel

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday quashed an FIR filed against the maker Kakoos (Toilet), a documentary film on manual scavenging.

Allowing a petition filed by the filmmaker, K Divya, Justice Anand Venkatesh observed,

In the considered view of this Court, the FIR that has been registered against the petitioner is clearly an abuse of process of law, which requires the interference of this Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. The complaint given by the second respondent and the FIR registered by the police clearly amounts to interfering with the fundamental right of speech and expression guaranteed to the petitioner.”

Divya had approached the High Court after the Tamil Nadu Police registered an FIR against her based on a complaint filed by S Baskar Maduram, an advocate and office bearer of a political outfit, Puthiya Tamizhagam. 

Baskar had taken objection to references made to a community called Thevendra Kula Vellalar in the documentary (Kakoos). He argued that the documentary had brought a bad name to the named community and that it was made with a malafide intention. He contended that Kakoos was made in an attempt to create caste conflict and disturb public tranquility by promoting enmity between communities. The FIR registered on his complaint accused the filmmaker of offences under Sections 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), read with Section 66F of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (cyber terrorism).

The State Police defended its decision to register the FIR, claiming that the complaint had made out a criminal offence. In view of the same, it was requested that the Court grant the police time to complete its investigation into the matter and file a final report.

The High Court, however, found that there was nothing to show that the documentary had led to the commission of the criminal offences cited. As regards the IPC charges, the Court observed,

In the considered view of this Court, the allegations made in the complaint does not make out a case under Sections 153 A and 505 (1)(b) of IPC. In the first place, the documentary in question is intended to create an awareness among general public for abolition of manual scavenging.

If in the documentary, any community has been named, it will not amount to an offence under Sections 153 A and 505 (1)(b) of IPC. There is no allegation in the complaint to show that there is promotion of feeling of enmity, hatred or ill will between different groups or communities. The only reference made in this complaint is to one particular community. Therefore, even if an extreme case is taken, at the best, the allegations made in the complaint will only amount to defaming a particular community and nothing more. It is not known on what basis the respondent police registered the FIR for the offence under  Sections 153 A and 505 (1)(b) of IPC.

Similarly, the Court also found that there is nothing to show that the ingredients of cyber terrorism were present in the instant case.

The complaint given by the second respondent does not in any way attract the provisions of Section 66 F of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The documentary that has been produced by the petitioner cannot be termed as a cyber terrorism.” 

The High Court, therefore, allowed the petition and quashed the FIR.

Image taken from here.

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