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Chennai court quashes order to impound passport of filmmaker Leena Manimekalai

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: Saying that impounding a passport under Section 104 of the CrPC is not proper, a principal sessions court in Chennai has set aside the order of a magistrate court to impound filmmaker Leena Manimekalai’s passport in connection with a defamation case filed by director Susi Ganeshan.

Allowing the revision petition filed by Leena Manimekalai, principal sessions judge R Selvakumar set aside the order of the magistrate issued on September 6 directing the regional passport officer to impound her passport.

“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. So, invoking section 104 of CrPC to impound the passport is not proper,” the sessions judge said in the order on Wednesday.

He observed that the Supreme Court had held that a passport does not come under Section 104 of the CrPC. It can be impounded by the passport authority after conducting a proper inquiry.

“Under such circumstances, the trial court appears to have erred in impounding the passport. Since there was a direction to dispose of the case within a stipulated time, no order can be passed impounding the passport which directly affects the personal liberty of the citizen and thus, this court is of the considered view that the revision deserves to be allowed,” the judge said.

He further noted that the metropolitan magistrate court had no power to order the impounding of the passport under Section 10 (3) (e) of the Passport Act.

The counsel for Leena Manimekalai contended that the trial judge had erroneously passed the order to impound the passport by reopening a case that was already closed.

As far as this case is concerned, the passport of the filmmaker was not seized and produced by the police, he argued.

It may be recalled that Susi Ganeshan filed the defamation petition against Leena after she raised sexual harassment charges against him.

Source: The New Indian Express