A sessions court in Lahore on Wednesday issued a notice to journalist Sami Ibrahim with regards to a defamation suit filed by Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry.
On July 5, Chaudhry filed a defamation suit against the journalist for making "false allegations" against him "without any legal justification in order to defame and blackmail him".
As per Chaudhry's suit, a "series of continuous defamatory allegations were made by accused as [a] TV anchor and on social media".
The minister, in his suit, claimed that Ibrahim had alleged that the minister of working in collusion with India's spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) against the interests of Pakistan and "a conspiracy has been hatched to dismantle [the prime minister] PM of Pakistan and the Government."
"It is a very serious allegation against a sitting federal minister and it not only caused an immense loss to the reputation and political credibility of [the] complainant but it also threatened the national security of Pakistan," Chaudhry's petition read.
"Allegation that a sitting federal minister is spying for foreign agencies is of a very serious nature which caused a stir in the public and has caused insecurity and distrust among the public at large about the security and wellbeing of Pakistan."
According to the minister, after putting him in "fear of injury to his reputation to his reputation and political stature," Ibrahim had attempted to extort money from Chaudhry.
" [...] on failure [he] started a defamatory campaign against the complainant which resulted in defamation as defined under Pakistan Penal Code, hence accused should be proceeded against in accordance with the law."
In his petition, Chaudhry called for Ibrahim to be summoned and punished in accordance with the law.
Additional Sessions Judge Amjad Ali Shah issued a notice to the journalist and summoned a reply on July 19.
The rift between Chaudhry and Ibrahim first came to light in June, when the minister unleashed a Twitter tirade against the journalist for accusing him of plotting against the ruling party. Ibrahim responded to Chaudhry's remarks in a television programme on Bol TV and accused him of using state vehicles for personal purposes during his tenure as information minister.
Later in the month, the journalist had reportedly filed a complaint at Mansoorabad police station in Faisalabad, accusing Chaudhry of slapping him at a wedding. A copy of the reported complaint, that was circulating on social media and was retweeted by Ibrahim, had alleged that Chaudhry had slapped and cursed the journalist without any provocation. It also accused the Science and Technology minister of threatening Ibrahim.
Following this, the Ministry of Science and Technology issued a response to the allegations and said that the "incident" should not be treated as a "clash between two institutions but as a conflict between two individuals".
Prime Minister Imran Khan also took notice of the altercation.