The Madras High Court on Thursday issued notice on a plea moved by Filmmaker, poet and civil rights activist Leena 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 Kollywood director 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.
Justice R. Mahadevan of the Madras High Court directed that notice be served to the Regional Passport Officer, Chennai through advocate A. Anuradha. He further directed the respondent authorities to file a counter affidavit within 2 weeks, reported Livelaw.
It was also pointed out to the Court that the petitioner had been given an opportunity to pursue the Graduate Program in Film at the renowned York University, Canada on a full scholarship. Thus, it is vital that the order impounding her passport is quashed at the earliest.
During the ongoing #MeToo naming shaming Men in 2018, Leena recounted a incident from 2005 when Ganesan allegedly offered to drop her home after an interview at a TV studio in Chennai. She said the director turned on the central lock system in his car after she got into the vehicle and forced her to come to his house. Adding that he drove her around Chennai streets for 45 minutes, she said,
Our conversation was normal at first, but his tone changed suddenly after he put the central lock on. He took the phone from my lap and threw it somewhere in the car. I was immobilised first and asked him to drop me immediately. Then I threatened to break the car door.
Ganesan had responded to Leena Manimekalai’s allegations on his Facebook page by alleging that it was her character that was flawed. He said she was a “modern woman” who gets inside a car irrespective of who is inside. He accused her of abusing men for benefits in return and of naming him for revenge. The filmmaker then said, that before he made public the evidence against her, she must apologise on her Facebook page for the lies or he would go to court to clean up his name.
She wanted to work as an assistant director or poet in my film and I didn’t give her the chance. She’s taking revenge now.
Filmmaker Leena Manimekalai has been fighting an onslaught of petitions filed against her by Susi Ganesan. Apart from the defamation case he filed against her, Ganesan had also been filing petitions at the Saidapet Magistrate Court in Chennai to impound Leena’s travel documents to prevent her from going to Canada, where she is enrolled as a student for Master of Fine Arts (Film) course at York University on a full scholarship.
In the latest development, Ganesan also wrote to York University directly, asking it to recall its letter to the Indian court supporting Leena and to cancel Leena’s student visa.
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.
Thus, it was argued by the petitioner that the Magistrate had committed illegality by reviewing the earlier order.
Leena’s passport was impounded on September 9, 2021, by the Passport Authority. On September 27, Leena took to twitter and wrote,
Yes, I named my harasser during the #metooIndia movement. Yes, he is weaponising defamation laws to silence me. I’m fighting it. Yes, he is using his powers to impound my passport. I’m challenging it. But isn’t it asking for my blood if he writes to my university in Canada to cancel my visa?
Adding further she wrote,
My existence is threatened. I am not able to travel, to study, to screen my films. My harasser misuses all my court documents to destroy my life. He wrote to my University in Canada directly asking them to cancel my Canadian visa. He uses the judiciary to continue to harass me with his power. His petitions are nothing but public slut shaming.
She also wrote,
He is misleading the court to prejudice the judge with my anti-establishment politics. He calls me urban naxal, maoist, anti-Modi, homosexual, mentally unstable, pornographic poet in his defamation case petition citing my social media posts and poems and translations and articles and films. I suspect my data is being snooped as my website gets hacked the moment it gets launched. I almost gave up on my website as my resources also are limited to cope with constant hacks. I am now afraid that he will use his fullest privilege of power and wealth to get my life if the legal ways of revenge run out.
Canada University Admission
The York University had, on September 11, written to the high court confirming that Leena is admitted to the 2021-22 MFA Film Studies programme on a scholarship based on her credentials and creative work. The university urged the court to allow for Leena’s passport, which was impounded on September 9 to be returned to her so that she could go to Canada to attend the last two terms of her study.
In an email dated September 15, 2021, Ganesan wrote to officials at York University as well government officials in Canada saying that the Indian court had passed an order to “restrain the negligent attitude” of Leena and impound her passport to ensure she attends the “criminal trial” against her (the defamation case). As reported by The News Minute, Ganesan’s email stated,
Your letter […] has demanded and advised the Indian court to remove the ban order in order to enable the accused to flee India evading criminal trial. Therefore, we hereby call upon you to review the court order and your letter and recall the same if you have communicated such a letter officially.
Ganesan, in his letter to the university, further stated that the university’s letter to the high court has “no merit in the eyes of the criminal justice of India” but can affect the public opinion given the university’s credibility. Ganesan added that if the university is still interested in supporting Leena, representatives from the university should come to visit the criminal court in India where the trial is taking place. This is not the first time that Ganesan has written to York University directly; but has been writing to them since September 2020 on the matter.
Remember Sarvjeet Singh Vs Jasleen Kaur Case?
In a much-hyped and controversial sexual harassment case filed by a woman named Jasleen Kaur against Sarvjeet Singh in 2015, he was eventually acquitted of all charges by Delhi’s Tis Hazari court on October 25, 2018.
Kaur, who was an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member and former student of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, had accused Singh of harassment and molestation in 2015 following a dispute between the two at a traffic signal in Delhi.
Kaur had then taken to Facebook to share her side of the story, posting Sarvajeet’s picture with it, which garnered massive attention including a media trial, during which he was labelled ‘Delhi ka Darinda’. Read all one sided media reporting in articles at the end.
Singh had retorted by claiming that the allegations made against him were false and it was Kaur instead who had picked a fight with him.
Singh, who maintained his innocence over the course of the trial and appeared for all the hearings, was finally been exonerated noting that the testimony of the complainant was not ‘trustworthy’ and ‘casts serious doubt over the prosecution’.
Kaur on the other hand skipped 14 trial hearings claiming that she was unable to be present due to ‘academic commitments’ in Canada.
Following Singh’s acquittal, Twitterati demanded an apology from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and former Times Now Editor-In-Chief, Arnab Goswami for jumping the gun and convicting him in media before conviction.
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Convicted By Media; Acquitted By Court | Compilation Of News Reporting Videos In Sarvjeet Singh’s Case
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