Imran fined over non-appearance of his counsel in defamation suit

Imran fined over non-appearance of his counsel in defamation suit

PESHAWAR: A local court here on Monday imposed fine of Rs2,000 on former prime minister Imran Khan after his counsel did not turn up in a defamation suit filed against him by former MPA, Fauzia Bibi, who was accused by him of selling her vote in the 2018 Senate elections.

An additional district and sessions judge, Aftab Iqbal, waited for Mr Khan’s lawyer to appear in the case and on his failure to do so the case was adjourned to September 17 with imposition of fine on him.

The plaintiff’s counsel Syed Ghufranullah Shah appeared along with three of the witnesses in the case. However, owing to absence of the defense counsel, the witnesses could not record their statements.

The former MPA, who was elected on reserved seats for women on PTI ticket, has filed the suit for recovery of damages to the tune of Rs500 million for defaming her through levelling “baseless” allegations against her by Mr Khan in a press conference.

Local court adjourns hearing of case till September 17

The defamation suit was filed in June 2018 under the Defamation Ordinance, 2002. The only defendant in the suit is PTI chief Imran Khan, who subsequently became prime minister and was then removed through a vote of no-confidence in April 2022.

The complainant claimed that in the Senate polls held on March 3, 2018, she had followed the party’s direction with effect to cast vote in favour of all the relevant candidates.

She stated that after the Senate polls, the defendant started uttering, spreading and resorting to publication, communication and circulation of maliciously false, baseless and unfounded oral statements and representation against the plaintiff.

After repeated court notices, a reply was submitted last year on behalf of Mr Khan, requesting to dismiss the suit as it was based on malafide and ulterior motives on part of the plaintiff.

In his reply, he stated that the press conference in question addressed by him was based on findings of a fact-finding committee and his remarks were made public in good faith.

He had stated that he had not said anything on his own or personal experience but had narrated only the true information provided by the fact-finding committee.

He stated that the committee disclosed to him the names of doubtful MPAs, who had not voted for the party’s candidates as a result of which the candidates had lost the Senate polls.

He claimed that the findings of the committee were based on strong evidence and the same was narrated by him during a press conference.

The defendant contended that the plaintiff did not challenge the action of the fact-finding committee and the disciplinary committee before any competent forum provided under the law governing the affairs of political parties as well as provided in the constitution of PTI.

On December 14, 2019, the court rejected an application of Mr Khan, seeking dismissal of the suit stating it was not maintainable.

In April 2020, Peshawar High Court allowed a petition of the plaintiff and ordered that the case should be disposed of as per section 14 of the Defamation Ordinance, 2002, under which the suit had to be decided within 90 days.

However, the case continued to linger due to one reason or another.

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