PESHAWAR: A local court on Saturday gave another chance to Prime Minister Imran Khan to respond to a defamation suit filed against him by former MPA Fauzia Bibi on the allegation of horse-trading in the 2018 Senate election.

Additional district judge Abdul Majid adjourned hearing into the lawsuit to Sept 12 asking Mr Imran to submit reply until then.

Ms Fauzia, who was elected on a seat reserved for women as a PTI candidate, has filed the suit for the recovery of Rs500 million damages from Mr Imran for defaming her through ‘baseless’ horse-trading allegation.

On Dec 14, the court had rejected Mr Imran’s application for dismissal of the lawsuit contending that it’s not maintainable.

The order was challenged by him in the Peshawar High Court. Decision on the plea has been pending since then.

Ex-MPA seeks Rs500m damages from Imran on horse-trading allegation

Deputy attorney general Mohammad Habib Qureshi appeared before the court for the prime minister and said the high court had fixed Oct 15 for hearing into the petition of his client against the high court’s Dec 14 order.

He sought adjournment of the hearing until that petition is decided by the high court.

Ghufranullah Shah, lawyer for Ms Fauzia, complained that despite the court’s repeated orders, the defendant had not been filing his reply to the lawsuit.

He said under Order VIII Rule 10 of Code of Civil Procedure, if any party from whom a written statement was sought failed to produce the same within the time fixed by the court, the court could announce a judgment against him or make such order regarding the lawsuit as it thought fit.

The lawyer requested the court to decide the suit in absence of the written reply to be filed by the defendant.

The court observed that another chance would be given to the defendant to file a written reply to the suit.

In the petition before the high court, Mr Imran had claimed that the news conference referred by the plaintiff was made by him in pursuance of a report submitted by the party’s disciplinary committee ‘in good faith’.

He had said the lawsuit of the plaintiff was not maintainable and was liable to be turned down.

Earlier, another application was filed on behalf of Mr Imran under Order VII Rule 10 CPC requesting the court to return the lawsuit as the news conference in question was addressed in Islamabad, which was out of the jurisdiction of the current court.

However, the application was also dismissed by the court on Jan 30, 2019.

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

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

Plaintiff Fauzia has claimed that she had followed the party’s directions to vote for its nominees for the Mar 3, 2018, Senate polls.

She said after the Senate polls, the defendant began 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, September 6th, 2020

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