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Ex parte defamation decree against ChitralToday challenged

CHITRAL: Two journalists associated with ChitralToday have challenged an ex parte decree of a local court in a defamation case filed by a man from Garam Chashma against them.   

In a petition filed with ADJ Ahmed Iftikhar, ChitralToday’s legal counsel contended that the judgment passed on March 22, 2016, against the editor and chief reporter of the online English newspaper was passed on the basis of unserved summons sent to the respondents on a wrong address in their absentia from their native villages in upper Chitral.

With a mala fide intention, the man provided the court the wrong address of Khuz, tehsil Mastuj, Chitral, on which the summons were sent by the court but could not be served. The counsel contended that the respondent No 1, the editor of ChitralToday, is a permanent resident of village Dizg, tehsil Mastuj, Chitral, while the summons and a subsequent advertisement published in an Urdu newspaper directing him to appear before the court mentioned his address as village Khuz, tehsil Mastuj, Chitral.

Similarly, he said, the house of the chief reporter in Khuz village was locked as he has been living in Islamabad along with his family for many years. The counsel added that on May 6, 2017, his clients received a summon from the additional district and sessions court Chitral on their Islamabad addresses and immediately contacted him (lawyer) to approach the court.

The court record showed that Zuhran Shah of Mogh village, who is a former manager of the Aga Khan Education Service (AKES) Chitral, had filed the defamation case worth Rs10 million against the two journalists in 2014. The lawyer also contended that the defamation judgment worth Rs10 million had been passed without giving the opportunity of hearing to his clients, which was against principles of justice.

Additional District Judge Ahmed Iftikhar directed that notice be issued to the respondent for June 5, 2017. The defamation suit was initiated on the basis of a report published in ChitralToday in March 2014. The news report was about a protest by people of Khuz against the relocation of an AKES community school from the village.

The report quoted the protesters as alleging that Zuhran Shah had been removed from the post of the general manager AKES Chitral for corruption but he was still interfering in the affairs of the institution and responsible for the relocation of the school.

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