Filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, who accused director Susi Ganesan of sexual harassment, and had her passport impounded recently based on a petition from the latter, has filed a writ petition with the Madras High Court to quash her passport impoundment.
Leena, who named her harasser in 2018 during the #MeToo movement, has been fighting a defamation case against Ganesan. Apart from that case, Ganesan also filed a petition to impound Leena’s passport. While his previous petition to impound her passport was not entertained by the Saidapet Magistrate Court, Ganesan moved the court yet again and on Thursday, Leena was notified that her passport was impounded by the Passport Authority.
The passport impoundment orders came just as Leena was set to travel to Canada to complete her MFA Film program from York University. The filmmaker also shared a letter written by the program director to the Madras High Court, urging the return of her passport so she can attend her final two terms in Canada.
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Leena’s counsel VS Senthil Kumar said the filmmaker’s writ against the impoundment orders was filed with the High Court on Tuesday.
He also listed the grounds on which they have filed the writ petition. “One, they have said that we did not reply to the show cause notice, but we did reply and have now attached the evidence for this. Two, the authorities have quoted a section saying that with a pending criminal case, passports can be impounded. To that, we have said that the mere pending status of a criminal case is not grounds for impounding a passport. Only for grave offences, like murder or drug cases, are passports impounded, but they have impounded it here for a comparatively petty case. Third, we have filed that the defamation case pertains to two individuals in relation to a private complaint and so the question of passport impoundment should not arise.”
It is to be noted that while there are two types of defamation cases, criminal and civil, Ganesan has filed a criminal defamation case against Leena.
Speaking to us earlier, Senthil Kumar had said the Passport Office had sent Leena a show cause notice in February saying a criminal case was pending against her and asking why her passport had not been impounded yet. “We sent them a reply in March saying that the issue is not a criminal or police case, but pertaining to two parties. This makes it a private complaint. We had also issued an explanation stating why Leena’s passport cannot be impounded. After this, there was no communication, until this recent development. We had also annexed all the documents, but they have passed the [impoundment] order without consideration,” he had said.
The advocate said on Wednesday that Leena’s writ petition against the passport impoundment will be heard by the court in the week following its listing. The petition is yet to be listed by the court.