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IHC seeks PM Imran’s reply in Khawaja Asif defamation case

IHC summons PM Imran Khan to record response. (Source: Dawn)

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday has issued notice to Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking his response in a defamation case against Khawaja Asif over the PML-N leader’s allegations about misappropriation of funds of Shaukat Khanam Memorial Trust (SKMT).

The prime minister had filed the defamation suit against Asif in 2012 for recovery of Rs10 billion as the latter had at a press conference levelled allegations about misappropriation of and money laundering through the SKMT funds.

A high court bench, headed by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, heard Asif’s plea against the sessions court’s decision to remove the right of cross-examination on the prime minister’s statement. The court restrained the trial court from proceeding with the hearing.

Asif’s lawyer claimed that the trial court judge removed the right of cross-examination on PM Imran’s statement, adding that the case dates to 2012 and questions were framed in 2021.

“Are you saying that the adjournment was done by Imran Khan?” Chief Justice Athar Minallah questioned, stating that the defamation case should have been decided in two months. Asif’s counsel maintained that the adjournment was taken by both the parties.

“The sessions judge’s order is illegal, unsustainable and based on not reading the record,” Asif’s counsel said, adding that the Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Mohammad Adnan had acted without the authority of the law.

Subsequently, the IHC stayed the ADSJ from conducting proceedings until the next hearing and issued a notice to the premier. The hearing was adjourned to Jan 12.

Last month, PM Imran appeared before a district and sessions court via video link from his office to record his statement in a defamation suit worth Rs10 billion filed against Asif.

The premier had submitted an affidavit to Additional District and Sessions Judge Muhammad Adnan against the PML-N leader for levelling allegations of non-transparency, money laundering and use of anonymous companies in the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (SKMT) funds.

PM Imran, in the document, informed the court that on August 1, 2012, Asif, while addressing a news conference held at the Punjab House, had alleged that he (PM Imran) had indulged in money laundering or had approved the commission of the practice through the SKMT. Later on, the same evening at a private TV programme, he repeated the allegations.

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