A metropolitan magistrate court here has issued process against filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma on a complaint filed against him for poking fun of Lord Ganesha on Twitter which allegedly tends to outrage the religious feelings of people.
Issuance of process is a legal means by which an accused (against whom a case is filed) is required to appear in court or is given notice of a legal action against him or her.
The process was issued on June 6 by Andheri Magistrate A D Lokhande on a complaint filed against Varma by Viveck Shetty, managing director of Indus Communications and head of Media Cell, Consumer Guidance Society of India, under IPC and Information Technology Act.
A copy of the court order issuing process was provided today to the complainant.
Varma has been asked to appear or respond by July 19.
The court had referred the complaint, filed in September 2014 to the cyber cell of police for verification. "During inquiry, the police found that Varma had during Ganesh immersion in 2014 had commented about God Ganesh on Twitter which had tendency to outrage religious feelings of people," the magistrate said in the order.
"After going through the verification statement and the inquiry made by Cyber Cell of Mumbai police Crime Branch, I hold that the complainant had prima facie made out a case against the accused. Hence I pass following order:
"Issue process against Varma for offence against section 295 (a) and 505 of IPC and 66 (A) of Information Technology Act," making it returnable on July 19, the magistrate said in the order.
Section 295 (A) IPC constitutes as an offence, deliberate and malicious acts which are intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs. Section 505 IPC deals with statements conducing to public mischief, while 66(A) of Information Technology Act describes offensive messages sent through communication service as an offence.
The 52-year-old producer-director, who, apart from questioning the ability of Lord Ganesha to remove obstacles from the path of his devotees, made fun of his physical attributes, the complaint alleged.
The complaint alleged that Verma's comments were in bad taste and insulting to the elephant god. "These tweets are per se outrageous and are on the face of it, hurting and inciting religious feelings and sentiments of people who practice, preach and propagate Hindu religion."