LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday sustained an office objection to a petition filed by Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif seeking a direction to a district and sessions court to hold day-to-day hearing of his Rs10 billion defamation suit against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The Registrar Office had objected to the maintainability of the petition, asking the petitioner to approach the directorate of district judiciary in the matter.

Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza heard the petition as an “objection case” and upheld the office’s objection. The judge directed the petitioner to file an application on the administrative side to the directorate general of the district judiciary – an LHC department overseeing the affairs of the district courts.

Advocate Mustafa Ramday appeared on behalf of Mr Shehbaz, saying the petitioner filed the defamation suit in 2017 when PM Khan had, in a press conference, stated that the petitioner offered Rs10bn to him through a common friend in exchange for withdrawing the Panama Papers case before the Supreme Court.

The counsel said the defendant had failed to file a written statement for the last four years causing no substantial proceedings in the case. He said the legal team of Khan sought adjournment on every other hearing. He argued that the law envisaged disposal of a defamation suit within 90 days, but in the instant case the defendant had not filed his reply for four years.

On Thursday, the sessions court also gave a last opportunity to the counsel for Khan to advance his arguments in the suit. The judge, however, warned that an order will be announced as per record if the counsel failed to advance the arguments.

The suit pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements made by the defendant widely circulated by the media lowered the integrity of the plaintiff and caused him extreme mental torture, agony and anxiety.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2021

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