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Magistrate's Order On Impounding Of Leena Manimekalai's Passport Set Aside, Madras High Court Told

Aaratrika Bhaumik
22 Oct 2021 7:03 AM GMT
Magistrates Order On Impounding Of Leena Manimekalais Passport Set Aside, Madras High Court Told
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Filmmaker, poet and civil rights activist Leena Manimekalai's counsel informed the Madras High Court on Friday that the order of a Magistrate which had directed the Passport Authority to take action on impounding of her passport has been set aside by the Sessions Court on October 20.The Madras High Court was hearing a plea moved by Manimekalai challenging an order passed by the Regional...

Filmmaker, poet and civil rights activist Leena Manimekalai's counsel informed the Madras High Court on Friday that the order of a Magistrate which had directed the Passport Authority to take action on impounding of her passport has been set aside by the Sessions Court on October 20.

The Madras High Court was hearing a plea moved by Manimekalai challenging an order passed by the Regional Passport Officer, Chennai, to impound her passport.

The impounding order was passed citing the pendency of a criminal defamation case against her. Manimekalai had come out with sexual harassment allegations against film director Susi Ganesan during the 2018 #MeToo movement. Consequently, Ganesan had filed a criminal defamation case against her in 2019 before a Magistrate's Court in Chennai. On September 9 this year, the Passport Officer impounded Manimekalai's passport under section 10(3)(e) of the Passports Act, 1967 on the ground of a criminal case pending before her.

Advocate Abudu Kumar Rajaratnam appearing for the petitioner informed Justice R. Mahadevan on Friday that the petitioner's passport had been impounded without adhering to the principles of natural justice. He pointed out to the Court that the impugned order by the Regional Passport Officer had been issued without giving any consideration to the reply filed by the petitioner to the show cause notice issued to her. He further submitted that the petitioner had not been extended any personal hearing before the impugned order was passed.

Furthermore, Justice R. Mahadevan enquired from advocate Rajaratnam on Friday, "what happened to the order of the Magistrate?"

To this, the counsel informed the Court that the order of the Magistrate impounding the petitioner's passport had been set aside. 

In 2020, the Saidapet Magistrate had closed the said petition after Manimekalai filed an affidavit stating that she will intimate the court regarding her foreign travel plans. However, subsequently Ganesan had challenged the closure order before the Madras High Court, but without success. Later, Ganesan filed a fresh petition, and the Magistrate re-opened the earlier order to direct the Passport authority to proceed under Section 10(3)(e) of the Act, it was further submitted.

Advocate Infant Dinesh appearing for Regional Passport Officer, Chennai informed the Court that the order of the Magistrate impounding the passport had been set aside but a certified copy of the same is yet to be received. 

Accordingly, the matter was listed for further hearing on October 27. 

Case Title: Leena Manimekalai v. The Regional Passport Officer

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