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Madras HC quashes order impounding passport of film-maker Leena Manimekalai

Madras HC quashes order impounding passport of film-maker Leena Manimekalai

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday set aside an order of the Regional Passport Authority impounding the passport of Leena Manimekalai, author, lyricist and filmmaker.

Justice M Dhandapani, who quashed the September 9 order this year, however, directed Manimekalai to appear before a lower court, where a defamation case was pending against her and co-operate to complete the trial.

A private complaint under CrPC section 200 was lodged by Tamil film director Susi Ganeshan against Manimekalai before the IX Metropolitan Magistrate in Saidapet alleging that her posts in the social media against him during the "Me too" movement in 2019, had tarnished his image in the eyes of the general public and, thereby, she had committed an offence of defamation under IPC section 500.

Justice Dhandapani was allowing a writ petition from Manimekalai and dismissing a criminal original petition from Ganeshan, who got impleaded in the case to oppose the grant of any relief to her, today.

The judge observed that the action of the passport authority in impounding Manimekalai's passport revealed there was non-application of mind to the provisions of law relating to the Passport Act.

No proper reasoning had been given in the said order to establish the need for impounding the passport. "In such a scenario, this court is of the considered view that the impugned order passed by the passport authority deserves to be set aside," the judge said and quashed it.

The court also observed the act of the passport authority appears to be very strange. Yet, for an offence alleged to have been committed under IPC section 500, that too on a private complaint, the passport, without any rhyme or reason and after a lapse of four years from the date of issuance of passport, had been cancelled, which act does not augur well with this Court.

"However, judicial discipline warrants this Court to refrain from dealing any further on this aspect," the judge added and left the matter at it.

The judge said Manimekalai should submit herself to the rigours of trial and have the same completed without getting any unnecessary adjournment or absenting herself from the hearings. She can engage a counsel and need not appear in the court. She should ensure that the trial is taken to its logical end at an early date so as to avoid multiplicity of litigations and mudslinging at each other.

The judge added if she intends to proceed overseas for further study, she should submit the plan in advance to the trial court, which should frame the trial schedule keeping in mind the necessity for the parties to be present at the time of trial and take steps to complete it as expeditiously as possible.

The judge also made it clear she should not adopt any dilatory tactics to circumvent the trial and prolong the same and any such act of hers will be viewed seriously. In the same breadth, Ganeshan should also co-operate with the trial court in the schedule framed for early disposal of the trial, the judge said

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TAGS:Leena Manimekalai#Madras High Court
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