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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) again issued notices to Prime Minister Imran Khan in a petition of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, Khawaja Asif seeking right to cross-examine the prime minister in a defamation suit.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah, on Tuesday, issued the notices, while hearing the petition of Asif, challenging the sessions court’s decision of not giving his counsel a right to present arguments in a defamation suit worth Rs10 billion filed by Prime Minister Imran Khan against him.

The bench deferred the hearing for two days and directed the respondents to submit their response in this matter. Imran Khan had filed the defamation suit against Asif in 2012 for recovery of Rs10 billion as at a press conference, the latter had levelled allegations of misappropriation of funds and money laundering through the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (SKMT) funds.

The prime minister had submitted an affidavit last month to Additional District and Sessions Judge Muhammad Adnan via video link against the PML-N leader for levelling allegations of non-transparency, money laundering, and use of anonymous companies in the SKMT funds.

Khan stated in the document submitted before the court that on August 1, 2012, Asif, while addressing a news conference held at the Punjab House, had alleged that 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. In his petition, the PML-N leader challenged the lower court’s verdict and cited PM Imran and the sessions court judge as respondents.

Asif adopted that Prime Minister Imran’s statement was recorded by the additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) via video link in the absence of his lawyer.

He added that his counsel had informed the sessions court that he could not appear on December 17 due to ill-health but the ADSJ recorded the premier’s statement in the absence of his counsel and the sessions court announced the verdict in haste without referring to any law. He prayed before the IHC bench to annul the decision of the lower court of terminating his right to cross-examine.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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