“This is not just a fight against sexual harassment. It feels like a war against the evil nexus of power, corruption and patriarchy,” Leena told TNM.

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news #MeToo Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - 18:52

In relief for filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, a sessions court in Chennai has set aside the Saidapet Magistrate court’s order to impound her passport. The Magistrate court had given the order after director Susi Ganesan – whom Leena had accused of sexual harassment and misconduct during the 2018 #MeToo movement – had filed petitions to impound her travel documents. This, apart from filing a defamation case against her for speaking up against him during #MeToo.

Leena’s passport was impounded in September by the Passport Authority, and she has been facing travel hurdles due to Ganesan’s onslaught of petitions against her to prevent her from traveling to Canada, where she is enrolled in an MFA (Film) course at York University on full scholarship.

Leena and her counsel are awaiting the order copy from the sessions court which sets aside the Magistrate’s orders. However, they have an adjudication which confirms the same. Speaking to TNM, Leena said, “This is the first victory. This is not just a fight against sexual harassment. It feels like a war against the evil nexus of power, corruption and patriarchy. I take this moment to thank my lawyers Senthil and Abudu for their excellent defence. And a big shout-out to everyone who lent their support, love, voice and solidarity. Absolute truth is my absolute defence.”

Meanwhile, Leena’s petition against the Passport Authority impounding her passport is coming up for hearing at the High Court on October 22, 2021. “I hope the session court’s judgement will be of major help,” she said. On September 9, 2021, Leena received an email from the Passport Authority, saying, “In the absence of any response from you, your file has been impounded […].” The response in question was to a show cause notice served to Leena in February, in relation to Susi Ganesan’s petition to impound her passport. However, the petition had been disposed of by the Saidapet Magistrate Court in November 2020. Further, Leena’s lawyer, VS Senthil Kumar, had told TNM then that Leena did respond to the said notice.

These petitions by Susi Ganesan have prevented Leena not only from going to York University for her course, for which she only has a student visa, but also from other universities which have invited her to screen her films and deliver lectures. Meanwhile, Susi Ganesan has been alleging that Leena will attempt to flee the country and delay the (defamation) case, even though Leena had told the court that she would be intimating it of her travel plans if she was going out of the country, before her passport was impounded.

Due to these petitions, the defamation case against Leena has not moved forward. Apart from Leena, actor Amala Paul had also accused Susi Ganesan of sexual harassment during #MeToo, and extended support to Leena as well.

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