Notice issued over PM plea for defamation suits consolidation

Published January 19, 2021
Both former MPAs have filed lawsuits against Mr Imran as in a news conference he had charged them of selling their votes in the 2018 Senate elections. — APP/File
Both former MPAs have filed lawsuits against Mr Imran as in a news conference he had charged them of selling their votes in the 2018 Senate elections. — APP/File

PESHAWAR: A single-member Peshawar High Court bench on Monday issued a notice to former woman MPA Meraj Humayun Khan seeking her response to the prime minister’s petition for the consolidation of the pending defamation lawsuits filed by her and another former MPA Fauzia Bibi against him.

Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan fixed Jan 25 for the next hearing into the petition wherein the prime minister has also sought the transfer of the defamation suit of Ms Fauzia Bibi pending before the court of an additional district judge Peshawar to a Swabi court hearing suit of Ms Meraj.

Both former MPAs have filed lawsuits against Mr Imran as in a news conference he had charged them of selling their votes in the 2018 Senate elections.

Ex-MPA Fauzia Bibi’s lawyer opposes transfer of case to Swabi court

Ms Fauzia Bibi was elected MPA on a seat reserved for women in the 2013 elections on the PTI’s ticket, whereas Ms Meraj was elected on the ticket of the Qaumi Watan Party but she announced the joining of PTI in Mar 2018.

Advocate Syed Ghufranullah Shah appeared for Ms Fauzia and contended that the petitioner (Mr Imran) had been using delaying tactics to prolong the conclusion of the trial by the ADJ court.

He said for the last over two years, the petitioner hadn’t been filing reply to the lawsuit filed by his client and had instead been trying to hide behind legal technicalities.

The lawyer pointed out that the case of his client had been pending with the Peshawar court since June 2018 and there was no justification for its transfer to Swabi. He added that the suit of his client was filed before Ms Meraj’s.

Mr Shah contended that from time to time, Mr Imran had been filing different applications with the trial court as well as the high court to delay the trial. He requested the court to turn down the premier’s that plea.

Deputy attorney general Mohammad Habib Qureshi appeared for Mr Imran and said the matter as well as the alleged cause of action was common in both lawsuits and that the facts were same based on a news conference addressed by Mr Imran on Apr 19, 2018.

He said the news conference was addressed in pursuance of a report submitted by disciplinary committee of PTI and show cause notices were issued to the two plaintiffs by late Naeemul Haq, a member of the disciplinary committee.

Mr Qureshi said the same set of evidence and witnesses would be required to prove or disprove the respective issues and therefore, it would be appropriate and in the interest of justice that both lawsuits should be consolidated in one court.

He said to avoid conflicting judgments on the subject it was mandatory to club both lawsuits to avoid multiplicity of litigation.

On Dec 14, 2019, the trial court here had rejected an application of Mr Imran seeking dismissal of the suit of Ms Fauzia contending that it was not maintainable. The said order was challenged by Mr Imran before the Peshawar High Court and that petition has still been pending there.

Despite repeated orders of the trial court the defendant (Imran Khan) has not been filing written reply to the suit.

Earlier, an application was filed on behalf of Mr Imran seeking return of the lawsuit saying the news conference was addressed in Islamabad, which was out of the jurisdiction of the present court. However, it was dismissed by the court on Jan 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 the prime minister.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2021

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