Justice M Dhandapani passed the direction on hearing the petition moved by Leena Manimekalai seeking a direction to release her passport as she has to go to York University, Canada for her pursuing studies.
While a criminal defamation case is pending against one, impounding his/her passport is not permissible, Justice Dhandapani observed. The HC also directed the RPO to release the passport of Leena Manimekalai within a week.
Infant Dinesh, Central Government Standing Counsel (CGSG) appeared for the Regional Passport Officer (RPO) submitted that the action was initiated under Section 10 (3) (e) of the Passport Act, 1967 as the petitioner’s response to the show-cause notice was not up to the satisfaction of the RPO.
The counsel for the passport authorities also submitted that the action was not taken merely on the directions of the Magistrate Court under section 104 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), but also regarding the communication by police. “The petitioner is acting against the direction of the Madras HC in cooperating to the trials of the criminal defamation case,” he added.
Leena Manimekalai’s counsel argued that if the passport authorities want to impound the passport of people who are facing defamation cases, no one could leave the country.
On recording the submissions, the judge said to the CGSG that there should be a limit for everything. “You acted upon the adverse report of the police. Don’t make hue and cry as if the petitioner had committed a huge crime,” the judge noted.
It is noted when the ‘Me Too’ movement boomed in 2018, filmmaker Leena Manimekalai levelled harassment allegations against director Susi Ganesan. Therefore, Ganesan filed a criminal defamation case against the woman filmmaker in 2019. He also filed a petition before the IX Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Saidapet, seeking direction to the RPO to impound her passport citing the pendency of the criminal defamation suit.
As the IX Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Saidapet closed the matter in November 2020. Susi Ganesan approached the Madras High Court seeking direction to impound Manimekalai’s passport. Therefore, the XI Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Saidapet opened the case again in August 2021 and passed directions to impound the passport of Leena Manimekalai on September 9, 2021. Aggrieved by the order Leena Manimekalai had approached the Madras Court for the release of her passport.