Court turns down Imran’s plea to return defamation suit against him

Updated January 31, 2019

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Prime Minister Imran Khan had requested local court to return a defamation lawsuit against him as it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case. — File photo
Prime Minister Imran Khan had requested local court to return a defamation lawsuit against him as it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case. — File photo

PESHAWAR: A local court on Wednesday rejected an application of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s lawyer for returning a defamation lawsuit against his client contending that the court doesn’t have the jurisdiction on the matter.

Additional district and sessions judge Shah Waliullah Hamid Hashmi pronounced that the court had the jurisdiction to decide the lawsuit under the Defamation Ordinance, 2002.

The court fixed Feb 15 for next hearing asking the defendant (Imran Khan) to file response to the lawsuit of former MPA Fauzia Bibi within a fortnight.

Babar Awan, lawyer for the prime minister, had filed the application under Order 7 Rule 10 of Code of Civil Procedure saying the news conference addressed by his client in this respect was held in Islamabad and not in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and therefore, the court can’t hear the petition.

Syed Gufranullah Shah, lawyer for the plaintiff, had requested the court to dismiss the premier’s application insisting that the court has jurisdiction to hold hearing into the case.

Declares it has jurisdiction to decide the case

Fauzia Bibi, who was elected on reserved seats for women on the PTI’s ticket, had filed the lawsuit for the recovery of damages to the tune of Rs500 million from Mr Imran for defaming her by levelling ‘baseless’ allegations of horse trading in the Senate election.

The lawsuit was filed in June last year under the Defamation Ordinance 2002. The only defendant in the suit is PTI’s chief Imran Khan, who subsequently became Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Mr Babar Awan had contended that the news conference was addressed in Islamabad, whereas the committee constituted for taking action against the plaintiff was also constituted there.

He had added that as the cause of action arose there, it was not in the jurisdiction of the present court to deal with the case.

Mr Awan had cited several superior court judgments in support of his contentions and requested the court to return the lawsuit.

Syed Ghufranullah Shah had contended that his client was member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and the statement of Mr Imran was related to her stint as member of the assembly.

He added that the allegations against his client were leveled in connection of the Senate elections for which she had cast vote in the KP Assembly.

The lawyer said the Defamation Ordinance, 2002, was a special law, which had an overriding effect over other laws.

He said under that law, Peshawar’s district court was the relevant forum for hearing the defamation suit.

The lawyer said in the Senate polls held on March 3, 2018, his client had followed the party leadership’s orders to vote for its nominees for Senate’s general and reserved seats meant for women and technocrats.

He said after the Senate polls, the defendant, Imran Khan, began uttering, spreading and resorting to publication, communication and circulation of maliciously false, baseless and unfounded oral statements and representation against the plaintiff accusing her of selling her vote in the Senate elections.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2019