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PESHAWAR: A local court on Saturday gave the last chance to the lawyer for Prime Minister Imran Khan to defend his plea for the dismissal of a defamation suit filed against him by former MPA Fauzia Bibi over the horse-trading allegation.

Additional district and sessions judge Abdul Majid fixed June 15 for hearing arguments about the premier’s application as Mr Imran’s lead counsel, Babar Awan, didn’t turn up and another lawyer, Habib Qureshi, sought another adjournment.

Ms Fauzia’s lawyer Syed Ghufranullah Shah contended that the premier had been deliberately delaying the dispensation of justice to his client.

Ex-MPA has taken Imran to court over horse-trading allegation

The court decided to give the last opportunity to the defence to argue its application observing that in case of failure on next date to argue the application, the court would pass an order without arguments.

The former MPA, who was elected on reserved seats for women on the PTI’s ticket, has filed the lawsuit for the recovery of Rs500 million damages from Mr Imran for defaming her by leveling ‘baseless’ allegation of selling her vote in the Senate elections last year.

Last month, an application was filed on behalf of the prime minister seeking dismissal of the defamation suit claiming the comments made by him about the former MPA were ‘fair and in public interest’.

The application filed under Order VII Rule 11 of Code of Civil Procedure said the news conference referred to by the plaintiff was addressed by Mr Imran in pursuance of a report submitted by the disciplinary committee in ‘good faith’.

The plaintiff had replied to the application requesting the court to reject it saying the plea of the premier is a delaying tactic to prevent dispensation of substantial justice to her.

She said by filing the application, the defendant wanted to avoid the merit of the case. “Article 10-A of the Constitution never allow the applicant to avoid court proceedings by filing baseless applications,” she maintained.

During a hearing, the court had given the last opportunity to Mr Imran’s counsel to submit written statement in reply to the suit failing which the court would decide the suit in its absence. However, it was not filed and instead the application in question was filed seeking rejection of the suit.

Few months ago, another application was filed on behalf of Mr Imran under Order VII Rule 10 requesting the court to return the suit as the news conference in question was addressed in Islamabad, which was out of the jurisdiction of the court. However, that application was dismissed by the court on Jan 30.

The defamation suit was filed in June 2018 under the Defamation Ordinance, 2002. The only defendant in the suit was PTI chief Imran Khan, who became the prime minister afterward.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2019