A sessions court on Friday issued a second notice to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on a Rs10 billion suit for damages filed by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif under Defamation Ordinance 2002.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Azfar Sultan sought a response from Khan while issuing him a notice for August 21.

The suit filed through Advocate Mustafa Ramday states that the defendant (Imran Khan) in April last started uttering false and malicious statements against the plaintiff (Shahbaz Sharif) that the latter offered Rs10 billion to the former through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the case of Panama Papers pending with the Supreme Court.

It says the plaintiff served a legal notice on the defendant asking him to tender a proper apology within 14 days through print and electronic media. However, the defendant failed to make an apology and the plaintiff was left with no option but to approach the court for recovery of damages.

The suit pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements by the defendant were widely circulated by media, lowered the integrity of the plaintiff and caused him extreme mental torture, agony and anxiety.

The court has been requested to issue a decree for recovery of Rs10bn as compensation for the publication of defamatory content in favour of the plaintiff.

At the last hearing of the case on July 7, the court had issued a notice to Imran Khan for July 21. However, when the PTI chief failed to submit his response during today's hearing, the court issued a second notice to Khan, giving him until August 21 to file his response.

Responding to the defamation suit, Khan had said earlier this month that he does not own Rs10bn, and will ask Shahbaz Sharif's sons Salman and Hamza for a loan since "all the children in Sharif family have somehow become billionaires".

Despite stirring up a hornet's nest, Khan has yet to reveal the identity of the individual who allegedly offered him the bribe, although he has insisted that the person lives in Lahore and that he will reveal his identity in court.

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