It appears that some latest developments in the Meesha Shafi-Ali Zafar case are being misreported by a section of mainstream media. There are currently two cases pertaining to the legal battle between Zafar and Meesha being heard by the sessions court in Lahore.
1) Civil defamation case filed by singer Ali Zafar against Meesha Shafi over her sexual harassment allegations against him.
2) Criminal defamation case filed in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) by Ali Zafar against Meesha and eight other people including activists and journalists who had lent support to Meesha online, following her accusations against Zafar. Zafar had accused them of ‘vilifying’ him on social media.
Naya Daur-Friday Times spoke to its sources who are privy to both cases and here are some main facts in this regard:
Civil defamation case
- Meesha Shafi was recently in Pakistan where she had come to attend the court proceedings earlier this month. Meaning that the social media allegations about her running away from the court are false.
- Meesha’s cross examination in the civil defamation case was conducted in the first week of January. (Her main statement in the case was recorded a year ago.) Meesha had requested the opposite party’s lawyers to finish the cross examination in the same hearing because she had to leave the country soon, but they sought another day and the hearing was postponed till January 7. On January 7, Meesha came to the court but the judge was on leave on account of illness. The next date given for the hearing is February 1, but Meesha has now left the county for Canada where she currently resides.
Criminal defamation case filed against Meesha and others
- On Thursday, the session’s court issued issued bailable arrest warrants against Meesha Shafi and eight others booked in the case on account of their absence in the hearing. However, what media did not report was that Ali Zafar’s lawyers were also absent from the latest hearing of the case on Thursday (in which arrest warrants against Meesha were issued). Zafar’s counsel were also absent from the hearing before that. The hearing has now been adjourned till February 8.
- Speaking to Friday Times, one of Meesha Shafi’s lawyers said that the court did not take notice of the absence of Zafar’s lawyers, but was quick to issue arrest warrants against Meesha over her absence. “Meesha had come to Pakistan to attend the hearings, and had been appearing before the court. The usual delays in the case are being done by the other party while we are being blamed,” they said.
- Meesha’s lawyers had filed an application seeking exemption from in-person appearance and requested her appearance through video link. Their request for exemption was denied.
- Meesha’s lawyers have filed a writ petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) seeking quashing of the FIR against her on the grounds that the FIA had misused its power by booking Meesha and others. Senior lawyer Hina Jilani is representing Meesha in this petition which questions section 20 of Pakistan Electronic Crimes Regulation (PECA, terming it unconstitutional. Various journalists have also observed that section 20 of the PECA is misused by the state to silence dissent.
Meesha’s appeal against dismissal of complaint:
Meesha Shafi’s appeal against the dismissal of her sexual harassment complaint against Ali Zafar (on technical grounds, not on merits or demerits of the case) has been pending before the Supreme Court for the last one year. The hearing of the case was indefinitely adjourned without decision.