A sessions court on Monday recorded the statement of Ali Zafar for five hours during a hearing of a defamation case filed by him against fellow artist Meesha Shafi.
Shafi had last year accused Zafar of harassing her "on more than two occasions". In response, Zafar had filed a defamation suit against her, saying that her "baseless and unfounded" accusations had allegedly tarnished his reputation. Zafar's legal team has so far produced nine witnesses who have testified in the singer's favour.
In his testimony today, Zafar said that Shafi's allegations had caused him "emotional and financial damage". He added that he was "surprised" when he found out that Shafi had accused him of harassment.
"I asked that I be told when and where I harassed Meesha Shafi," he said.
"I sent a legal notice to Meesha Shafi immediately after she accused me [of harassment] and demanded an apology," Zafar told the court. He also submitted records of messages that he claimed were sent to him by Shafi, along with the tweets posted on her account.
Zafar claimed that before accusing him publicly, Shafi had sent him a message through her manager Rizwan Raees, telling him to "stay away from Pepsi Battle of the Bands". Shafi is one of the judges in the television contest.
He claimed that Raees had told him that Shafi "will not be alone in her accusing [the singer] of harassment and has many supporters".
"Meesha Shafi said that she will start a movement with her allegations," Zafar claimed.
The singer told the court that after Shafi accused him of sexual harassment, he sent her a message asking her to talk about her allegations in front of their families. Shafi said that she would respond after consulting her legal team.
He mentioned the rehearsal session during which, according to Shafi, Zafar had harassed her. According to Zafar, he and Meesha were standing at a distance of about two to three feet and there were multiple people present on the occasion.
"For an incident of sexual harassment to take place in the presence of so many people is not humanly possible," he insisted. He added that Shafi had thanked everyone at the end of the rehearsal and had also uploaded pictures of the session on her Twitter account.
The singer said that Shafi had also accused him of harassing her on other occasions, including a birthday party of Zafar's brother-in-law held in 2015 and that of his wife in 2016. He said that Shafi had attended both parties with her husband and met him in front of family members.
"I have evidence against Meesha Shafi's allegations," Zafar said, and submitted pictures of the events to the court. He said that Shafi had tagged him in pictures of herself and her husband that she had uploaded on social media and "expressed good wishes".
At one point, Shafi's lawyer asked the court to adjourn the hearing as Zafar's testimony had gone on for more than four hours. Zafar insisted that the court record his statement today as he had to travel abroad for a concert. The court allowed Zafar to continue recording his statement.
He informed the court that his parents are both teachers and had "brought him up properly despite financial strains". He said that he had started his career as a sketch artist in a hotel lobby and began working as a musician in 2003. He had worked hard to become a successful artist, he said.
He further said that he also worked in the Bollywood industry, with prominent artists like Katrina Kaif.
After five hours, the court adjourned the hearing until July 3.