PESHAWAR: A bench in the Peshawar High Court, a single member, summoned ex-MPA Meraj Humayun Khan on Monday for responding to a petition from Prime Minister Imran Khan calling for the consolidation of two pending libel lawsuits against him by her and another former MPA, Fauzia Bibi.
Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan has set February 22 for the next hearing on the petition in which the PM also asked the court to transfer Ms Fauzias’ case from a court in Peshawar to a court in Swabi, which hears Ms. Merajs’ case.
The two former lawmakers have sued Mr Imran for publicly accusing them of selling votes in the 2018 Senate elections.
Ms. Fauzia was elected MPA on one of the seats reserved for women in the 2013 election on the PTI ticket, while Ms. Meraj was elected on the Qaumi Watan party ticket but joined the PTI in March 2018.
High Court sets next petition hearing for February 22
Deputy Attorney General Mohammad Habib Qureshi appeared for the petitioner and said the court hearing Ms Fauzia’s case ordered ex parte proceedings against Mr Imran on February 13 for not being properly assisted.
He said the prime minister had submitted an application to the lower court, insisting that the request to transfer the case was pending in the high court, the trial hearing should be adjourned.
Mr. Qureshi said Mr. Imran asked the court in that petition to allow him time to respond to the trial.
He asked the court to make a stay order against the trial court proceedings until the transfer request is decided.
The chief justice noted that the High Court will not prevent the trial court from proceeding with prosecutions, as that is the domain of the latter.
Lawyer Syed Ghufranullah Shah appeared for Ms Fauzia and argued that the trial court ordered ex parte proceedings against the prime minister because his lawyer was not appearing before him and was using different tactics to prolong the trial.
He argued that the cases of Ms Fauzia and Meraj Humayun were of a different nature and therefore could not be consolidated.
Ms Fauzia said on the bench that she was a cancer patient and had been to the trial court regularly for more than two years, but the trial was still ongoing due to Mr Imran’s delaying tactics. She asked the court not to transfer her case from the current court. The bench noted that it would decide the issue after hearing all the parties.
As Ms Meraj did not show up, the bench sent her another notice of appearance on February 22.
PMS REQUEST: Prime Minister Imran Khan moved Peshawars District and Extra Sitting Judge Abdul Majid on Monday, asking for his order to initiate ex parte proceedings against him in Fauzia’s defamation lawsuit to be quashed Bibi and allow him to challenge the trial on merit.
His request was filed by Deputy Attorney General Habib Qureshi, insisting that the prime minister was properly represented by his lawyer in the case and that his lawyer was unable to appear before him at the final hearing because he had to travel to Karachi for his wife’s medical treatment.
He said the attorney’s failure to appear at the previous hearing was not voluntary.
The petition stated that the court had wrongly assumed that neither the defendant (Mr. Imran) nor his litigant had ever appeared before it in the case.
He added that the defendant was fully interested and ready to defend the mock trial from day one and, therefore, the ex parte procedural order was likely to be recalled.
The demands indicate that the lawsuit should be heard giving the defendant the opportunity to defend himself.
The court will hear the claim on February 20.
Posted in Dawn, February 16, 2021
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