Reply sought from Ali Zafar on Meesha's plea to stay damages suit proceedings

Oct 11, 2020

Reply sought from Ali Zafar on Meesha's plea to stay damages suit proceedings

Lahore (Pakistan) October 11: A sessions court on Saturday sought a reply from singer-actor Ali Zafar on an application filed by fellow singer Meesha Shafi for staying the ongoing proceedings in a Rs1 billion defamation suit filed by the former against the latter till a decision in a case registered against the defendant and her witnesses for alleged violation of cybercrime laws.
The lawyers from both sides were present in the court as Additional District and Sessions Judge Yasar Hayat resumed hearing of the suit. However, Ms Shafi's witnesses were not present as required by the court for recording their statements.
Advocate Saqib Jillani, the counsel for Ms Shafi, submitted the application for staying the proceedings in the case, saying the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) at the behest of the plaintiff (Mr Zafar) lodged a frivolous FIR against his client and eight others, including her witnesses.
He said the FIR was a blatant attempt to silence the witnesses of the defendant at a critical stage of the trial when the defendant was producing her witnesses before the court.
The counsel said two of the witnesses - Leena Ghani and Humna Raza - had personally experienced sexual harassment at the hands of the plaintiff. He contended that the witnesses felt further harassed since the FIA registered the FIR against them and attempts were being made to silence them.
Other witnesses of Ms Shafi booked in the FIR are actor-host Iffat Omar and Maham Javed.
Advocate Jillani in the application pointed out that one of the key witnesses of the defendant, Humna Raza, who had earlier made a statement that she was also harassed by the plaintiff recently issued an apology which had been procured through the harassment and pressure of the FIR lodged by FIA.
The counsel alleged that the FIR was an attempt not just to harass and silence the defendant and her witnesses, but also amounted to an abuse of the process of law that would prejudice the trial of the case.
He pleaded that the defendant's right to a fair trial under Article 10-A of the Constitution would be severely impaired if her witnesses were unable to narrate the truth freely and without pressure on account of harassment and intimidation by the FIA and the plaintiff.
He argued that in this climate of harassment and intimidation to the defendant's witnesses the proceedings in the suit should be stayed till a decision on the FIR.
The judge handed over a copy of Ms Shafi's application to the counsel for the plaintiff for a reply to be filed by Oct 13.
In his suit, Mr Zafar said Ms Shafi, through a tweet on April 19, 2018, levelled baseless and unfounded allegations of sexual harassment against him, which resulted in tarnishing his image in public, while his family had been facing agony and pain.
He said Ms Shafi failed to delete the tweet or issue an apology within 14 days of a legal notice served on her. He asked the court to issue a decree against Ms Shafi with a direction to her to pay Rs1 billion as damages to him.
Source: Dawn