Pakistan News

Defamation lawsuit against PM put off due to lawyers’ absence

PESHAWAR: A local court on Saturday adjourned hearing into a former legislator’s defamation lawsuit against the prime minister over a horse-trading allegation until Oct 29 and asked PM Imran Khan again to file response to the lawsuit.

The adjournment came as lawyers didn’t appear before additional district judge Abdul Majid due to a strike of their community against changes to the Code of Civil Procedure.

Plaintiff Fauzia Bibi, a former member of the provincial assembly, showed up in the court.

Elected on a seat reserved for women on the PTI’s ticket, she had filed the lawsuit for the recovery of damages to the tune of Rs500 million from Mr Imran for what she claimed defaming her by levelling baseless allegation of selling vote in the 2018 Senate elections.

On Dec 14, the court had rejected an application of Mr Imran seeking the dismissal of the lawsuit saying the matter was not maintainable. The order was challenged by the premier in the Peshawar High Court. His petition has been pending with the court since then.

Despite repeated orders of the trial court, Mr Imran has not been filing written reply to the lawsuit.

Few weeks ago the plaintiff counsel Ghufranullah Shah had filed an application under Order VIII Rule 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure stating therein that when any party from whom a written statement was sought failed to present the same within the time fixed by the court, the court may announce judgment against him or make such order regarding the suit as it thinks fit.

He had requested the court to decide the suit in absence of the written reply by the defendant.

In the petition before the high court Mr Imran had stated that that the press conference referred by the plaintiff (Ms Fauzia) was made by him in pursuance of a report submitted by the disciplinary committee in good faith. He had stated that the suit of the plaintiff was not maintainable and was liable to be turned down.

Earlier, another application was filed on behalf of Mr Imran under Order VII Rule 10 CPC requesting the court to return the suit as the press conference in question was addressed in Islamabad, which was out of the jurisdiction of the present court. However, that application was also dismissed by the court on Jan 30, 2019. This defamation suit was filed in June 2018 under the Defamation Ordinance 2002. The only defendant in the suit was PTI chief Imran Khan, who later became the prime minister.

Meanwhile, a leader of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Chitral, Abdul Lateef, has filed an application with the court for the inclusion of his name as a defendant in the lawsuit claiming he is a necessary party to the issue.

Advocate Malik Mohammad Ajmal filed the application saying his client as the president of the PTI Chitral chapter had asked the plaintiff about voting in the Senate elections against the party’s guidelines and was told that three of the party’s leaders received Rs270 million to vote for certain candidates in the Senate polls.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2020

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