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June 6, 2020

Shahbaz’s defamation suit: Court issues notice to Imran for 10th over early hearing plea

National

June 6, 2020

LAHORE: An additional district and sessions court on Friday issued notices to Prime Minster Imran Khan on an application, moved by opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif seeking early hearing of his defamation suit against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, pending before the court for three years.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Sohail Anjum issued notices to premier for June 10 to submit his response in the suit.

Shahbaz Sharif, through his counsel, moved the court stating that defamation suit was pending for three years and Imran Khan had not submitted his written reply so far. He stated that in three years, 60 hearings took place and 33 times Imran sought adjournment. He said that court orders of the previous hearings are witness to irresponsible attitude of the PTI chairman.

Shahbaz argued that on June 4, during the hearing of defamation suit, the court was informed by vice counsel Sajid Munawar Qureshi that Babar Awan, the counsel for Imran Khan, could not appear before the court due to Covid-19 situation. Shahbaz counsel stated that the information was a lie and the court was misguided as on April 8, Babar was appointed as an advisor on parliamentary affairs to the prime minister.

The counsel stated that, according to Rule 108-O of the Pakistan Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Rules 1976, the licence of lawyer gets suspended if he joins another profession or department.

The counsel stated that if a lawyer doesn’t inform the court about change of his profession even after passage of one month, it is considered as misconduct on the part of the lawyer. Shahbaz implored the court to impose fine on the vice counsel for submitting a false statement before the court.

Earlier, on June 4, the court had adjourned the hearing of the suit for June 22. However, after receiving an application from Shahbaz, the court issued notices to Imran Khan for June 10. As per case details, in 2017, Shahbaz Sharif had sent Rs10 billion defamation notice to PTI Chairman Imran Khan. The notice, which had been filed under sections 4 and 9 of the Defamation Ordinance, 2002, stated that Imran falsely accused Shahbaz of making him a financial offer for his ‘silence over the Panama Papers case’.

The petition stated that “the facts and circumstances giving rise to the filing of the instant suit are that since the last week of April, 2017, the Defendant [Imran Khan] started uttering, spreading and resorting to the publication, communication and circulation of maliciously false, baseless and unfounded oral statements and representations against the plaintiff [Shahbaz].”

Moreover, it said that Imran claimed that Shahbaz “offered to pay a sum of Rs10,000,000,000 to the defendant in exchange for his withdrawing/backing-off from, or remaining silent on the issue of the Panama Papers case.”

In April 2017, Khan during a gathering at Shaukat Khanum Hospital, Lahore, alleged that he had been made an offer in the Panama case.

"Just imagine how much money he offered me to be silent — Rs10 billion! If he can offer me this much money, just imagine how much he could offer to others. That is why if we don't maintain public pressure on this issue, then after two months it will be dragged to the next year," Khan had claimed.