PESHAWAR: A local court has dismissed a defamation suit against Jang Group and its senior journalist Arshad Aziz Malik in a billion tree tsunami case.The court of Additional District Sessions Judge...
PESHAWAR: A local court has dismissed a defamation suit against Jang Group and its senior journalist Arshad Aziz Malik in a billion tree tsunami case.
The court of Additional District Sessions Judge Abdul Majid has declared that the material on file is neither ridiculous nor published against the plaintiff, but it is clearly information based on the official papers of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
"A political figure has been referred and allegation of misappropriation has been issued against the Billion Tree Tsunami project launched on the instance of the political figure and the applicant being secretary forest was not supposed to come to rescue a political figure by filling the instant suit. He is actually not defamed either as a government servant or as a person," the court explained in the decision.
Syed Nazar Hussain Shah, secretary Forest and Environment and Wildlife, had filed the suit for the recovery of damages under the defamation ordinance 2002 against senior journalist Arshad Aziz Malik and Jang group regarding a story published in Daily Jang and The News on February 7, 2018 with the titled “KP official papers belie Imran Billion Tree Tsunami claims”.
Additional District Sessions Judge Abdul Majid declared that the suit in hand is not maintainable and rejected the suit under Order 7 Rule 11.
It is pertinent that Right to Information Commission had already dismissed the application of the Forest Department for criminal proceedings against the Journalist by violating Section 28 of the RTI act 2013 in April 2019. Amir Abdullah Abbasi, advocate from defendant, while arguing the case has said that the suit is not maintainable because the plaintiff is a government servant and not aggrieved person. Being a civil servant, he cannot come to rescue the political figure. Moreover, he stated that there were no defamatory words uttered or material referred against the plaintiff. He argued that the news story was neither contained any false statement nor ridiculed any person. The news story was based on truth and facts were provided by the government department.
“An independent press must cherish its role of informing the public about the misdeeds of their elected representatives and must resist the pressure whatsoever,” Amir Abdullah said.
According to the court order, Section 8 provides that the plaintiff will issue a notice within two months after the publication of defamation to the defendant. Thus the essentials of the defamation are that the matter should be published against the person, which should be defamatory. It should be a false statement. It should injure the reputation of person or lower the estimation and reduce him to ridicule, criticism, dislike, contempt or hatred. It said the material on file is neither ridiculous nor it is published against the plaintiff, but it is clearly information based on the official papers of the government of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“The plaintiff is not named in the material, rather a political figure has been referred. Thus the plaintiff is neither ridiculed, criticized nor he has been disliked,” the court ruled in the decision.
The court further mentioned that under the ordinance, defamation is actionable when it is published in any form and it entails damages. The preamble of the Defamation Ordinance also provides that it is a special law enacted with special procedure. Therefore, it further said, there is difference of defamation actionable under Section 4 of the ordinance as no adverse report has been published against the plaintiff.
“There is nothing available on file that the plaintiff has been authorized by the KP government to file such a suit. The plaintiff is a civil servant and his service is governed by the KP government Servant Act 1973. He can only have recourse to court after seeking proper permission from the government. No such permission has been granted to him to file the suit. Hence the inception of this case in not proper,” the court ruled, adding that apart from the above, the allegation of misappropriation has been issued against the Billion Tree Afforestation Project, a project launched on the instance of the political figure and the plaintiff being secretary Forest, Environment and Wildlife Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was not supposed to come to rescue a political figure by filling the instant suit. It was stated that he was actually not defamed either as a government servant or as a person.
It said the provisions of the Defamation Ordinance 2012 are very much clear that it is a special law promulgated in order to cope with the defamatory statements, articles published and circulated in media either through verbal or visual form and it injures the reputation of the person. Here the plaintiff is not the affected person against whom such publication has been made. Even the plaintiff has not been authorized to sue the defendant for their act. Resultantly, the suit in hand is not maintainable, therefore, the suit is rejected. The court rejected the suit in hand under Order 7 Rule 11.