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Court to expedite Shehbaz’s defamation suit against Imran

LAHORE: A sessions court on Wednesday resolved to expeditiously decide a long pending defamation suit by Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Mudassar Farid Khokhar fixed Oct 6 for the appearance of the parties personally or through their counsel for further proceedings in the suit filed in 2017.

Earlier, the judge dismissed as infructuous a civil miscellaneous application of Shehbaz for closing the right of Khan to file his written statement on the pretext of an inordinate delay on part of the defendant.

However, the judge observed that since the defendant (Khan) had submitted his statement on July 27, 2021, the application stood infractuous.

The judge disposed of another application of the plaintiff seeking a day-to-day hearing in the suit as the Defamation Ordinance made it mandatory upon the courts to decide the case within 90 days.

The judge observed that the written statement had been filed by the defendant and now the case shall be proceeded further according to the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure 1908 and Qanoon-i-Shahadat Order 1984.

“As the defamation ordinance has also given the time frame for decision of suit, therefore, short dates shall be fixed to decide the case expeditiously,” wrote AD&SJ Khokhar in his order.

The judge already dismissed an application as withdrawn of Khan challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.

The defamation suit states that Khan started uttering false and malicious statements against the plaintiff (Shehbaz) that the latter offered Rs10 billion to the former through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the case of Panama Papers pending before the Supreme Court.

It pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements by the defendant [widely circulated by 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 10bn as compensation for the publication of defamatory content in favour of the plaintiff.

In his written statement, Prime Minister Khan states that one of his friends told him that someone known to him and also the Sharif family approached him with an offer to pay billions of rupees if he could convince him (Khan) to stop pursuing the Panama case.

Khan says he disclosed the incident for the consumption of the public at large and in the interest of the public good does not constitute any defamation.

The statement maintains that Khan did not specifically attribute any statement to the plaintiff (Shehbaz) while narrating the incident.

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