Pak court issues notice to Imran Khan in defamation case

Lahore [Pakistan]: An additional district and sessions court here issued notices to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on an application, moved by opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif seeking early hearing of his Rs 10 billion suit for damages under Defamation Ordinance, 2002.

Sharif had filed the suit in 2017 when Khan, in a press conference, had stated that the plaintiff had offered him Rs 10 billion through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the Panama Papers case before the Supreme Court, Dawn reported.

The application for early hearing, filed through Advocate Mustafa Ramday, said that the defendant had failed to file a written statement for the last three years, causing no substantial proceedings in the case.

It stated the total number of hearings conducted by the court was 60 and out of which on 30 different occasions, the counsel, on behalf of the defendant (Khan), had sought adjournment. While on last hearing, a vice-counsel for the defendant told the court that the lead counsel, Babar Awan, was unable to travel from Islamabad to Lahore due to coronavirus pandemic and the court adjourned the hearing for June 22.

It said that Awan, under the law, could not appear before the court to defend the defendant since he had become an adviser to Imran Khan.

The application asked the court to impose a fine on the vice-counsel for making a false statement and fix the case for an early hearing.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Sohail Anjum issued notice to the defendant on the application for June 10.

The damages suit stated that the plaintiff had served a legal notice to the defendant, asking him to tender a proper apology within 14 days through the print and electronic media. However, the defendant failed to make an apology and the plaintiff was left with no option but to approach the court for recovery of damages.

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

The court has been requested to issue a decree for recovery of Rs 10 billion as compensation for the publication of defamatory content in favour of the plaintiff.

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