PESHAWAR: A local court here on Wednesday turned down a request made on behalf of Prime Minister Imran Khan to adjourn for indefinite period hearing of a defamation suit filed against him by former MPA Fauzia Bibi and directed him to file a reply to the suit till August 8.
An additional district and sessions judge, Abdul Majid, ordered that in case the reply was not filed till next date, the court would proceed with the case without it.
The former MPA, who was elected on reserved seats on PTI ticket, has filed the suit for recovery of damages to the tune of Rs500 million for defaming her through levelling “baseless” allegations against her by Mr Khan during a press conference accusing her of selling her vote in the Senate elections.
Directs the counsel of Imran Khan to file reply till Aug 8
A deputy attorney general, Mohammad Habib Qureshi, appeared for Imran Khan and submitted an application for adjourning the case sine die on the ground that an appeal had been filed before Peshawar High Court against an earlier order of the court delivered on December 14, 2019.
Mr Qureshi contended that the high court would hear the said appeal on October 12, therefore, till the court decide that appeal the present trial court should adjourn the suit.
When the court inquired whether the high court had issued any stay order to stop trial in the instant case, he replied in negative after which the court turned down his plea and issued directives to file reply to the suit under Order VIII Rule 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
The said rule provides that if a party from whom written statement is required and it fails to present the same within the time fixed by the court, the court may pronounce judgment against him or make such order in relation to the suit as it thinks fit.
Advocate Syed Ghufranullah Shah appeared for the plaintiff and contended that despite repeated orders of the court directing the defendant Imran Khan to submit the written reply, the same had not been filed on one pretext or another. He argued that the defendant had been using delaying tactics for the last around two years.
On December 14, the court had rejected an application of Mr Khan seeking dismissal of the suit contending that the suit was not maintainable. The defendant had stated that that the press conference referred by the plaintiff (Ms Fauzia) was made by the defendant (Imran Khan) in pursuance of a report submitted by the disciplinary committee of the party in good faith.
The said dismissal order was challenged on behalf of Mr Khan in Peshawar High Court, which has still been pending.
Earlier, another application was filed on behalf of Mr Khan under Order VII Rule 10 CPC, 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 January 30, 2019.
This defamation suit was filed in June 2018 under the Defamation Ordinance, 2002. The only defendant in the suit was PTI chief Imran Khan, who subsequently became prime minister.
Ms Fauzia has claimed that the Senate polls held on March 3, 2018, and she had followed the direction with effect to cast vote in favour of all the candidates of her party.
She stated that after the Senate polls, the defendant started uttering, spreading and resorting to publication, communication and circulation of maliciously false, baseless and unfounded oral statements and representation against the plaintiff.
Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2020