ISLAMABAD: Additional District and Sessions Judge Syed Mohammad Haroon rejected the request of the PTI ex-chairman for pardoning Rs7,000 fines imposed on him for seeking repeated adjournments in a Rs1bn defamation case filed by the Jang/Geo Group.
The court, in its written order, said that the damages were imposed correctly and Imran Khan repeatedly asked for adjournment on his own miscellaneous petition. During the hearing, Jang/Geo Group lawyer Aamir Abdullah Abbasi Advocate appeared before the court along with his team and took the stand that Imran Khan’s request for remission of damages for repeated adjournments was malicious and against the law.
He said, “The court imposed a compensation of Rs5,000 on September 12, and Rs2000 on October 10, 2023 on him for repeatedly seeking adjournment on his own petition. It is not possible to listen to him without paying the damages. The PTI slogan is that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, therefore, the defendant as a former prime minister or as the head of a political party is not entitled to such favours. The case has been pending since 2018. According to the law, the defamation case should have been decided within 90 days. The case has been pending for five years due to delaying tactics of Imran Khan. This behavior of the defendant is against the spirit of speedy justice and rule of law.”
He maintained, “The statements of the witnesses have been recorded. Damage waiver and other requests on behalf of the defendant are tantamount to prolonging the case. Apparently, the defendant seeks to prolong the case by taking orders on such applications and challenging them in higher courts. He is using delaying tactics to waste the court time and obstruct the delivery of justice. He changed his lawyer more than 10 times and arguments were postponed five times on the request of a junior lawyer. Despite being called several times, no one appeared on behalf of the defendant.”
The lawyer informed the court that the defendant Imran Khan had admitted in the miscellaneous application that the allegations he made were based on various news and TV channels. “This position is against Islamic teachings. In the light of the position, the question arises as to how such a person can be righteous and claimant to establish the state of Madina, who launches a false, baseless and misleading campaign to defame someone. If Imran apologises for his actions and expresses his shame, we are ready to bring the amount of damages to a symbolic level in good faith,” he added.
It should be noted that the Jang/Geo Group had filed a Rs1 billion defamation suit against former PTI Chairman Imran Khan for making false and baseless allegations in 2018.
According to the case, Imran Khan has started a series of allegations to defame the Jang/Geo Group and its Editor-in-Chief and Chairman Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman since 2014. Imran called him a “blackmailer, pharaoh and media godfather.” He accused the group of being involved in rigging the 2023 election, obtaining the rights of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka cricket series through collusion, obtaining financial interests from foreign countries, and advancing the agenda of India and America in Pakistan. Imran also tried to create doubts in the hearts of the people about their patriotism by accusing them of supporting foreign narratives through alliances with India and America and foreign funding.
Imran Khan also accused the group of seeking financial benefits from foreign governments to fulfill his political ambitions. The suit states that the group maintains all financial accounts and asset records as required by law. Apart from Imran Khan, no competent body has ever complained of any kind of irregularity against it. The group has been popular and loved by the common people for providing outstanding services and authentic information in the field of journalism for the past seven decades.
The Jang/Geo Group has rendered important and outstanding services in social welfare, health, education and promotion of harmony at the national level. Editor-in-Chief and Chief Executive of Jang/Geo Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a well-known journalist and media personality. He is the founding president of the Pakistan Broadcasters Association and has been the president of the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors and the All Pakistan Newspapers Society for many years. In July 2005, the American magazine “Business Week” named him among the “25 Stars of Asia”.
Besides journalism, the group has done extensive services for the welfare of humanity and promotion of peace through the Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation (MKRF), “Aman Ki Asha” and “Pukar”.
The case filed by the Jang/Geo Group against Imran Khan also states that the PTI ex-chairman worked together with the group for social welfare and flood victims in the past and in various interviews before 2014, he even appreciated the services of the group but since April 2014, he has been defaming it.
In the past, a private TV channel also levelled similar allegations against the group, which was sued in the London court and the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division issued a degree of one hundred and eighty-five thousand pounds in favour of the Jang Group and also ordered the channel to pay the group millions of pounds as the cost of the case.
Imran Khan repeatedly incited the people against the Jang/Geo Group. His false and baseless allegations not only affected the reputation of the group but also threatened the lives of all people associated with it and their families. All the allegations of Imran Khan are false, fabricated and baseless. Therefore, he should be ordered to apologise unconditionally, publicise it and pay Rs1bn in damages.