Prime Minister Khan has engaged his party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Senator Syed Ali Zafar as his new counsel to defend him in the case.
Zafar’s associate appeared before the District and Sessions Court Lahore on Monday and filed his power of attorney on behalf of the premier.
Additional District & Sessions Judge Yasir Hayat directed Zafar to personally submit his power of attorney on the next hearing on April 6.
The court also asked him to submit replies to the case. It was the 46th hearing of the case. In the last 45 hearings, Khan”s lawyer sought adjournment on 38 occasions.
The court adjourned the hearing till April 6.
On the previous hearing, Khan’s counsel had given an undertaking in writing that on the next hearing, arguments would be advanced and no further adjournment would be sought.
According to the case, “Imran Khan made a false and malicious allegation against Shahbaz Sharif that the latter offered PKR 10bn (USD 61 million) to the former through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the Panama Papers case in the Supreme Court against the 70-year-old former prime minister and his elder brother Nawaz Sharif (in 2017).”
Sharif, who is currently in London for treatment, is the supremo of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). He was disqualified as prime minister in 2017 by the Supreme Court in 2017 in the Panama Papers case.
Three corruption cases – Avenfield properties, Flagship investment and Al-Azizia steel mills – were registered against the Sharif family by the anti-graft body in 2017 following a judgment by the Supreme Court that disqualified him and subsequently he was jailed for seven years in the Al-Azizia mills corruption case.
He was granted bail in this case in November 2019 by the Lahore High Court on medical grounds.
Khan, however, did not name the person who offered him the money on behalf of Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz.
Shahbaz, in the case, had asked Khan to tender a proper apology within 14 days through the print and electronic media.
“However, Imran Khan failed to make an apology and the plaintiff (was) left with no option but to approach the court for recovery of damages,” it said.
The suit pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements by the defendant, widely circulated by the media, lowered Shahbaz”s integrity and caused him extreme mental torture, agony and anxiety.
The court has been requested to issue a decree for recovery of PKR 10 billion as compensation for the publication of defamatory content.