Tamil News

#MeToo: Madras HC Directs Regional Passport Office to Release Leena Manimekalai’s Passport

The Madras High Court observed on Wednesday that filmmaker-poet Leena Manimekalai’s passport could not be impounded on the mere basis of a criminal defamation case being pending against her. Justice M Dhandapani, who heard the case, further directed the Regional Passport Office in Chennai to release Leena’s passport.


The impoundment is part of the legal battle that Leena has been fighting against filmmaker Susi Ganesan after she named him as her harasser during the #MeToo movement. Leena has also been slapped with a defamation case by Ganesan.

While Ganesan’s first petition to impound her passport was not entertained by the Saidapet Magistrate Court, Ganesan moved the court yet again and Leena’s passport was impounded early in September, just as she was set to travel to Canada to pursue the last leg of her Master of Fine Arts course at York University.

It is to be noted that in October, the Sessions and District Court of Chennai had set aside the Saidapet Magistrate Court’s order to impound Leena’s passport. However, Ganesan had appealed to quash this order of the Sessions Court.

During Wednesday’s hearing, apart from directing the RPO to release Leena’s passport, the Madras HC also disposed off Ganesan’s appeal to quash the Sessions Court order.

Advocate Senthil Kumar appearing for Leena stated that his client was ready to face the defamation case. The counsel for the RPO, on the other hand, argued that her passport was impounded based on the “adverse report” the passport office had got from the Commissioner of Police.


“There is a limit for everything. You acted upon the adverse police report. Don’t make hue and cry as if the petitioner has committed a huge crime,” the judge said to the RPO’s counsel.

While telling Ganesan’s counsel that Leena will be asked to attend all the defamation case hearings, the judge also assured that Ganesan’s interests will be protected but not at the cost of infringing upon the personal liberty of Leena.

“This is not a murder trial. If you win the defamation case, you will be compensated. It is not a heinous offence that she has committed, I am going to issue a direction to release the passport,” the judge concluded.

In addition, the court also gave the green signal for Leena’s petition seeking transfer of a case resting at the Saidapet Magistrate and ordered both the parties to decide on another court for the proceedings.