LAHORE: A sessions court on Wednesday issued a notice to actor-cum-singer Ali Zafar on an application by singer Meesha Shafi saying she and her husband should be allowed to get their cross-examination recorded through a video link in a defamation suit by the former against the latter.
Filed through Advocate Saqib Jillani, the application said Ms Shafi and her husband had already recorded their examination-in-chief during 2019 and now wished to present themselves for cross-examination.
However, since they were residents of Canada, it was very difficult and impractical for them to physically travel to Pakistan and get their cross-examination recorded.
“Therefore, they request that their cross-examination should be recorded through a video link,” it added.
The application stated that Ms Shafi considered the defamation case against her as false and frivolous and an attempt to harass and silence her from pursuing her sexual harassment complaint against the plaintiff/Zafar.
It pointed out that Ms Shafi herself got her statement recorded on Dec 9, 2019 when she was in Pakistan during an extended visit. However, the incident of Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) in December 2019 on account of a strike being observed by lawyers, her cross-examination could not be conducted. It said both the defendant and her husband had been residents of Canada since 2016.
Shafi had to leave for Canada and planned to get her cross-examination completed in March/April 2020 when she was to return for work in Pakistan.
However, the application said, on account of the Covid-19 pandemic the entire world went into a lockdown situation and international air travel came to halt. The courts in Pakistan, particularly the trial courts across the country, limited themselves to hearing only urgent nature cases.
The present case was also affected and the defendant’s witnesses could not record evidence during the entire time.
“That defendant being a working mother and on account of the unnecessary costs and expenses is severely constrained to travel back to Pakistan and requests that arrangement be made so that her and her husband’s cross-examination be conducted through a video link,” the application asked the court.
The court issued a notice to the plaintiff and sought his reply on Shafi’s application by Oct 25.
Zafar filed the suit against Shafi for leveling allegations of sexual harassment on him. He said the allegations tarnished his image in public while his family had been facing agony.
He asked the court to issue a decree against Shafi and direct her to pay Rs1 billion as damages to him.
Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2021