Court rejects PM request to dismiss defamation suit

Updated December 15, 2019

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Prime Minister Imran Khan has been accused by a party member of levelling accusations of horse-trading in Senate election. — PM Imran's Instagram/File
Prime Minister Imran Khan has been accused by a party member of levelling accusations of horse-trading in Senate election. — PM Imran's Instagram/File

PESHAWAR: A local court on Saturday rejected an application of Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking the dismissal of a defamation suit filed against him by former MPA Fauzia Bibi over the Senate election horse-trading allegation.

Additional district judge Abdul Majid had reserved verdict on the application on June 15 after the lawyers for both sides finished arguments.

The court fixed Jan 18, 2020, for the next hearing asking the defendant (PM Imran) to formally respond to the suit.

The application was filed in April under Order VII Rule 11 of Code of Civil Procedure, requesting the court to reject the suit as it was not maintainable.

The defendant had stated that that the press conference referred by the plaintiff (Fauzia Bibi) was made by the defendant (Imran Khan) in pursuance of a report submitted by the disciplinary committee in good faith.

Asks Imran to reply to ex-MPA’s complaint about horse-trading charge

The former MPA, who was elected on reserved seats for women on PTI’s ticket, has filed the suit for recovery of damages to the tune of Rs 500 million for defaming her through levelling “baseless” allegations against her by Mr Khan in a press conference accusing her of selling her vote in the Senate elections.

Advocate Ghufranullah Shah had represented the plaintiff whereas Babar Awan had argued the application on behalf of Imran Khan.

Babar Awan had argued that the suit had been filed by the plaintiff against his client without any legal and factual basis but with a sole purpose of getting political advantages.

He had said the disciplinary committee had looked into the matter and submitted its report to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman (Imran Khan).

The lawyer said the bews conference of the defendant was held on the basis of that report.

He said the show cause notice was issued to the plaintiff by member of the disciplinary committee Naeemul Haq on Apr 19, 2018, while former filed reply with the committee headed by Mr Pervez Khattak.

The lawyer said the plaintiff did not challenge the committee’s report before the competent forum and that the defamation suit didn’t have necessary parties.

Syed Ghufranullah Shah had requested the court to turn down the application saying the filing of that application was an attempt of the defendant (Imran Khan) to escape from facing the merit of the case.

He said the defendant through such false, frivolous and baseless application was trying to avoid and delay substantial justice to the plaintiff as enshrined under Article 10-A of the Constitution.

He said Article 10-A didn’t allow the applicant to avoid court proceedings by filing baseless applications.

Last year, another application was filed on behalf of Mr Khan under Order VII Rule 10 requesting the court to return the suit as the press conference in question was addressed in Islamabad, which was out of the jurisdiction of the present court. However, that application was also dismissed by the court on Jan 30m 2019.

The defamation suit was filed in June 2018 under the Defamation Ordinance, 2002.

The only defendant in it was PTI chief Imran Khan, who later became the prime minister.

Plaintiff Ms Fauzia has claimed that she had followed the party’s directions to vote for its candidate in the Mar 3, 2018, Senate polls but the defendant later used ‘maliciously false, baseless and unfounded’ statements against her.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2019