Me Too: Madras HC orders Leena Manimekalai’s passport to be returned

Justice M Dhandhapani, who pronounced the order, set aside the Saidapet Magistrate Court’s order that had allowed for Leena’s passport to be impounded based on Susi Ganesan’s petition.
Leena Manimekalai
Leena Manimekalai
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In what comes as a relief for filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, the Madras High Court on Friday, December 3, ordered the Passport Authority to return her passport within a week. Justice M Dhandapani who pronounced the order set aside the Saidapet Magistrate Court’s order that had allowed for Leena’s passport to be impounded based on Kollywood director Susi Ganesan’s petition to impound her travel documents. The director had claimed that Leena would attempt to flee the country to escape proceedings in the defamation case he has filed against her for naming him in the 2018 Me Too movement.  

Leena has repeatedly denied Ganesan’s claim, stating that she only has a student visa to go to Canada for her MFA (Film) course at York University, which she is pursuing on a full scholarship. She had also earlier told the lower court that she would inform it if she was undertaking any international travel. Despite this, Leena’s passport was impounded in September 2021. The high court’s order comes after a sessions court in Chennai had also set aside the Saidapet Magistrate Court’s order in October.

“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,” Leena had told TNM on October 22, when the sessions court order had come out.

Leena has stated that Susi Ganesan’s petitions have not only prevented her from going to York University to finish her course but is also an assault on her means of livelihood as she has been unable to attend screenings of her films in other countries or be a guest lecturer when invited by universities abroad. Further, due to the slew of petitions from Ganesan, the defamation case against Leena has not moved forward. Moreover, she is not the only woman who had accused Susi Ganesan of sexual misconduct and harassment during the Me Too movement – actor Amala Paul had recounted her own experience with him, and also publicly supported Leena. 

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