Madras High Court Transfers Criminal Defamation Case Against Filmmaker Leena Manimekalai To Different Magistrate, Says Decide Within 3 Months
The Madras High Court recently ordered the transfer of a criminal defamation case against filmmaker Leena Manimekalai from a Metropolitan Magistrate Court to a different court within Saidapet. Director Susi Ganeshan had filed the criminal defamation case against Manimekalai after she accused him of sexual harassment during the MeToo movement. Justice G Chandrasekharan noted that...
The Madras High Court recently ordered the transfer of a criminal defamation case against filmmaker Leena Manimekalai from a Metropolitan Magistrate Court to a different court within Saidapet. Director Susi Ganeshan had filed the criminal defamation case against Manimekalai after she accused him of sexual harassment during the MeToo movement.
Justice G Chandrasekharan noted that the magistrate had committed two procedural violations — the court had received proof affidavits of witnesses instead of examining the witnesses under oath in the open court and recording the chief examination, and the court had done examination of some witnesses (through proof affidavit) even prior to questioning the accused under Section 251 CrPC.
The court also noted that the Magistrate had permitted scrapping of evidence of certain witnesses even without giving opportunity to the petitioner to oppose the memo filed for scrapping the evidence.
"In the light of the above procedural violations committed by the IX Metropolitan Magistrate, Saidapet, there is an apprehension created in the mind of the petitioner that justice will not be done to her. This is a ground for transfer as per the observations made by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the above judgment reported in 1966 AIR 1418 (Gurucharan Das ..vs.. State of Rajasthan) (cited supra). Thus, this Court is of the view that it is not advisable to continue the proceedings to be conducted by the learned IX Metropolitan Magistrate, Saidapet in C.C.No.344 of 2019," the court said.
Manimekalai had also alleged that the Magistrate was giving preferential treatment to Susi Ganeshan. It was submitted that whenever any petition was filed by her or any relief was asked, the Magistrate had not considered the same in the manner known to law. On the other hand, whenever any petition was filed by Ganeshan, it was considered favourable, the court was told
Ganeshan denied all such allegations. He submitted that the defamation case had been pending since 2019 without any progress. Manimekalai was not cooperating with examination of witnesses and completion of trial, Ganeshan alleged.
He also alleged that she did not attend courts regularly or follow her undertaking to comply with court directions and co-operate with the trial. He further submitted that the Magistrate had only attempted to dispose of the case as early as possible as per the directions of the High Court and the Supreme Court. Thus, claiming the allegations to be false, he prayed for dismissal of the transfer petition.
The court noted that even though both the High Court and the Supreme Court had directed to dispose of the case within a time frame, the trial was not properly conducted.
"From the records it is seen that the petitioner has not made sufficient arrangements to proceed with the trial in her absence. It is also seen from the records that she wanted to go to Canada in connection with a course. Despite giving an Undertaking that she will cooperate for the smooth conduct of the trial, the trial proceedings shows that the trial was not conducted as desired," the court said, while rejecting the allegation of favouritism.
However, the court said there have been procedural violations and ordered transfer of the proceedings on the file of the IX Metropolitan Magistrate, Saidapet to the XI Metropolitan Magistrate, Saidapet.
"Accordingly, this petition is allowed. The learned XI Metropolitan Magistrate, Saidapet is directed to dispose the case as expeditiously as possible preferably within a period of three months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order," it added.
Case Title: Leena Manimekalai v. Susi Ganeshan
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 101