PESHAWAR: A local court has summoned the relevant office-bearer of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) for the production of records related to the charges levelled by the party against some of its members in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly of selling their votes in the 2018 Senate elections.

Additional district and sessions judge Abdul Majid issued the order in a defamation lawsuit filed against Prime Minister Imran Khan by former woman MPA Fauzia Bibi, who was accused by him in a news conference of selling her vote during the Senate polls.

He fixed Feb 10 for the next hearing into the case summoning two other witnesses, who are the relevant staff members of the Rehman Medical Institute Peshawar and Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, Lahore.

The witnesses were summoned as plaintiff Fauzia Bibi also claimed that she had developed cancer due to stress caused by the ‘baseless’ horse-trading allegation.

Summons ruling party’s relevant office-bearer, two witnesses on Feb 10

The court observed that as it was a backlog case, it would be fixed for hearing on the weekly basis.

However, Mr Imran’s lawyer, Intazar Hussain Panjotha, said he won’t be available next week due to ‘other engagements’.

The court fixed Feb 10 for the next hearing observing that the lawyers should make it convenient next time for the hearing of the case on a weekly basis.

Advocate Syed Ghufranullah Shah appeared for the plaintiff.

The former MPA, who was elected on a seat reserved for women as a PTI nominee, filed the lawsuit for the recovery of Rs500 million damages from Mr Imran on the charge of defaming her through ‘baseless’ allegations in a news conference.

The defamation suit was filed in June 2018 under the Defamation Ordinance, 2002, and the only defendant in it is PTI chief Imran Khan, who became the prime minister afterwards.

The former lawmaker claimed that she had followed the party’s directions for voting in the March 3, 2018, Senate polls but the defendant later uttered, spread, and resorted to the ‘publication, communication and circulation of maliciously false, baseless and unfounded oral statements and representation’ against her.

On Dec 14, 2019, the court had rejected an application of Mr Imran, who sought the dismissal of the defamation suit claiming it is not maintainable. Subsequently, the court had decided on Feb 13 last year to start ex parte proceedings against the prime minister over his failure to submit reply to the lawsuit despite repeated orders.

A reply was later submitted on behalf of Mr Imran, who sought the dismissal of the defamation suit claiming it is based on mala fide and ulterior motives on part of the plaintiff.

In the reply, he said his news conference in question was based on the findings of a fact-finding committee of the party on the horse-trading matter and that his remarks in that respect were made public in good faith.

Mr Imran also insisted that he had said nothing on his own or out of personal experience and instead, he had only highlighted the ‘true’ information provided by the fact-finding committee.

He said the fact-finding committee disclosed to him the names of the MPAs, who had not voted for the party’s candidates in the Senate elections and causing the failure of the latter.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2022

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