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PSJ quashes order impounding passport of author-filmmaker Leena Manimekalai


CHENNAI: Holding that a Magistrate cannot invoke Sec 104 CrPC to impound the passport of a citizen, the Principal Sessions Judge (PSJ) has set aside the orders of a Magistrate in the city, impounding the passport of Leena Manimekalai author, writer, filmmaker and a social activist.

PSJ R Selvakumar set aside the September 6 order of the Metropolitan Magistrate in Saidapet, while allowing a revision petition from Manimekalai, on Wednesday.

In her revision petition, Manimekalai submitted the Magistrate had erroneously passed the impounding order by reopening a criminal defamation case filed by film director Susi Ganeshan, which was closed long ago.

The court has no power to impound her passport so as to affect her personal liberty, Manimekalai contended.

The writer had levelled sexual harassment charges against Ganesan.

Accepting the contention, the PSJ observed it had been categorically held by the Supreme Court and the High Courts that impounding of passports cannot be done by the court under Sec 104 CrPC.

A court is competent to impound any document gathered during the investigation and produced before the court.

“In this case, the passport had not been produced before the court. Hence, invoking Sec 104 CrPC to impound the passport of the petitioner is not proper,” the PSJ said.

Further, the Supreme Court had categorically held that a passport would not come under the purview of Sec 104 CrPC and it can be impounded by the passport issuing authority alone after giving notice and taking proper enquiry.

“Under such circumstances, the trial court appears to have erred in impounding the passport of the petitioner,” the judge said and allowed the revision petition after quashing the Magistrate’s order.

Source: The New Indian Express