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PM seeks dismissal of defamation plea filed by Fouzia Bibi

PESHAWAR: A lawyer for the prime minister has filed an application with a local court seeking the dismissal of a defamation suit filed by former MPA from Chitral Fauzia Bibi against his client insisting Imran Khan’s remarks about her over horse trading in the Mar 2018 Senate election were ‘fair and in public interest’.

The application prepared by lead counsel Babar Awan and filed by lawyer Habib Qureshi under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure claimed that the news conference referred to by the plaintiff was made by the defendant (Imran Khan) in good faith in pursuance of a report submitted by the disciplinary committee.

The former MPA, who was elected on a seat reserved for women on the PTI’s ticket, has filed the lawsuit for the recovery of damages to the tune of Rs500 million from Mr Imran for defaming her by leveling ‘baseless’ allegations of horse trading in the Senate election.

Imran insists his remarks about ex-MPA over Senate poll were ‘fair and in public interest’

Additional district and sessions judge Abdul Majid fixed Apr 20 for the next hearing into the lawsuit.

Syed Ghufranullah Shah, lawyer for the plaintiff, said the defendant had been using delaying tactics by filing different applications instead of filing written statement in reply to the main suit despite repeated court orders.

The court directed the premier’s counsel to submit a written statement on the suit.

During the last hearing on Mar 25, the court had given the last opportunity to Mr Imran’s counsel to submit a written response to the suit warning if the reply is not filed, the court will go ahead with deciding the suit.

However, the lawyer didn’t file the same and instead submitted an application for rejecting the suit.

Few months ago, another application was filed on behalf of Mr Imran under Order VII Rule 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure requesting the court to return the suit as the news conference in question was addressed in Islamabad, which was out of the jurisdiction of the present court.

However, the application was dismissed by the court on Jan 30. The defamation suit was filed in June 2018 under the Defamation Ordinance, 2002. The only defendant in the suit was PTI chief Imran Khan, who later became the premier.

The application said the suit had been filed by the plaintiff against the defendant without any legal and factual basis but with a sole purpose of getting political advantages.

It added that the disciplinary committee had inquired the matter and submitted its report to the PTI chairman (Imran Khan).

The application said the news conference of the defendant was held on the basis of that report.

It said the show cause notice to the plaintiff was issued by member of the PTI’s disciplinary committee Naeemul Haq on Apr 19, 2018, and the plaintiff submitted her reply to the committee headed by Mr Pervez Khattak.

The application said the plaintiff did not challenge the disciplinary committee’s report before the competent forum, while the lawsuit filed by the plaintiff didn’t mention necessary parties.

It said the comments of the defendant were honest comments and not based on malice and ill will.

Plaintiff Ms Fauzia claimed that in the Senate election held on Mar 3, 2018, she had followed the leadership’s direction regarding voting for the party’s all nominees for general seats and those reserved for women and technocrats.

She said after the Senate election, Imran Khan began uttering, spreading and resorting to publication, communication and circulation of maliciously false, baseless and unfounded oral statements and representation against her.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2019

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