The controversy over Kerala's Electricity Minister M M Mani's derogatory remarks on the women's collective Pembilai Orumai continues to haunt the CPI (M)-led LDF government.
Close on the heels of CPI (M) state secretariat deciding to issue "strict warning" to the minister, and the women's commission registering a suo motu case against the minister, the Kerala High Court has taken cognizance of the minister's speech.
The Kerala High Court observed on Friday that M M Mani's speech in which he made offensive remarks against a women's group was a "serious issue."
The HC was hearing a petition filed by one George Vattakkuzhy, demanding that a criminal case be filed against the minister for allegedly defaming the women's collective Pembilai Orumai.
Questioning the state government, the court also sought to know what measures the State Police Chief has taken on the matter. Asking the Idukki SP to submit a report, the court has also asked for a video footage of the minister's speech to be submitted to it for further scrutiny.
Ever since the controversy broke out, M M Mani has been maintaining that his words were distorted by the media and taken out of context in an attempt to target him.
Meanwhile, the Pinarayi government told the court that Mani had not defamed the women's group Pembilai Orumai in his speech. Defending the minister, the state government argued that the minister's comments were directed against the media and that he had not insulted the women at all.
However, according to regional media reports, the court told the government that making such remarks about the media was also not acceptable. The court told the government that media persons too have fundamental rights and that it cannot be violated.
This is not the first time the state government has publicly defended the minister. On Thursday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took to Facebook to criticise the media. The CM also asked the media organisations to â€śintrospectâ€ť about whether they were crossing their limits while criticising "those in power."
MM Mani's alleged comments against the women's collective saw members of Pembilai Orumai calling for an indefinite protest against the minister. The protesting members, who have been on a strike since Monday, have said that they would only call off the protest once the minister apologises to them in person and step down from his post.