The passport of Tamil filmmaker Leena Manimekalai’s who accused filmmaker Susi Ganesan of sexual harassment, has been impounded, Leena’s counsel V.S. Senthil Kumar confirmed to Silverscreen India on Friday.
Leena, who named her harasser in 2018 during the #MeToo movement, has been fighting a defamation case against Ganesan. Apart from the case, Ganesan has also filed a petition to impound Leena’s passport.
Though Ganesan’s previous petition to impound Leena’s passport was not entertained by the Saidapet Magistrate Court, he yet again moved the court to open the case.
Senthil Kumar said that Leena got an email from the Passport Authority that her passport has been impounded on Thursday. “The Passport Office had sent Leena a show-cause notice in February saying that a criminal case was pending against her and asked why her passport has not been impounded yet”.
When asked how the authorities could name her in the criminal case, Senthil said that the answer rests with the passport authorities. “We had 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 earlier to the court, but they have passed the order without consideration,” he said.
Senthil added that they will have to appeal against the order in Madras High Court.
According to a report by The News Minute, on August 24, Leena had tried to seek an explanation from passport authorities to expand on the reason “adverse police verification” based on which they impound her passport.
“I am not aware of the basis on which the police have provided an adverse police verification report. If the exact details are provided, I will be in a much better position to give a suitable reply for the same,” she had written according to TNM. Following this, Leena was also given “verbal assurance” that the impounding will be closed.
The passport impoundment comes at the time when Leena is set to travel abroad for the screening of her film Maadathy and to attend filmmaking courses in the US. “Bcos I outed a sexual predator in #MeToo, Indian Justice System impounds my passport. Fall Sem Courses for my MFA @yorkuniversity has already started. Had to reschedule @MaadathyTheFilm screening/lecture/Sep13 at #JohnFischerCollege,NY.Isnt travel/study my fundamental right?” Leena wrote on Twitter.