The Lahore High Court's (LHC) Justice Asjad Javaid Ghural remarked on Wednesday that deciding the harassment matter of the national cricket team captain Babar Azam before the Pakistan Super League (PSL) ended would earn the country a bad name.
Justice Ghural then fixed the case for hearing in April, observing that, “the PSL is in full swing hence, deciding this matter before will bring bad name to our country.”
As proceedings commenced, Azam’s counsels expressed reservations over the content of an earlier order passed by an additional district and sessions’ judge (ADSJ), directing the Lahore police to register a First Information Report (FIR) against Azam.
The complainant, Hamiza Mukhtar, was also present in the courtroom along with her counsels.
Babar Azam had challenged the ADSJ's order directing the concerned SHO to register an FIR against him on Hamiza’s plea stating that the cricketer blackmailed and fornicated with her (with consent) under the pretext of marriage.
'All allegations false'
Azam’s counsels challenged the order in the LHC on his behalf, denying the allegations levelled by Hamiza one by one.
Responding to the first allegation relating to sexual harassment, the counsels contended that she levelled this allegation merely to “blackmail, harass and intimidate” the petitioner.
Azam maintained in his petition that when the matter was inquired about by the concerned police, the respondent resiled from the said allegations and apologised to the petitioner. This is also recorded in her affidavit and statement in which she has withdrawn the first frivolous complaint. "Thereafter, the matter came to an end," a counsel argued.
He further revealed that after a lapse of over two years, his client received a legal notice out of the blue, dated November 19, 2020, from the respondent.
"The legal notice is akin to an extortion notice wherein Hamiza demanded to be paid Rs150 million, threatening to reach out to international bodies and media otherwise," Azam's counsel maintained.
He further stated that the petitioner being "absolutely innocent, was undeterred by the baseless legal notice, and gave a befitting reply, dated November 24, 2020, and straightaway denied to pay even a single penny as extortion money".
"The fact that her legal notice and claim is baseless stands corroborated by the fact that one of her allegations concerns being paid Rs1.2 million in Lahore in October, 2017," the counsel maintained.
Azam's counsel stated that on November 25, 2020 another identical application was filed against his client with the same allegations. However, following the police intervention it transpired that the allegations of the petitioner were incorrect.
Moreover, the medical documents that the petitioner attached in another application as proof of Azam's presence were false as the cricketer was not present in Pakistan at the said time. Azam maintains that he was in England playing for the national team.
The counsel contended that, “It is settled law of the superior courts of Pakistan, that is incumbent upon the justice of peace, to apply his judicial mind and adjudge the entire set of allegations prudently.”
“The justice of peace is not bound to issue direction to the police in each and every case, to record the statement of the complainant, if apparently no cognizable offence is made out or the complaint is tainted with malice and ulterior motives,” he added.
ADSJ's order for FIR
On January 14, an additional district & sessions judge had directed the SHO Naseerabad to register First Information Report (FIR) against Babar Azam on Hamiza’s plea under aforesaid allegations.
The ADSJ's order stated that, “Serious allegations of miscarriage/abortion and deceitfully intercourse on false assurance of marriage etc were leveled against the proposed accused.
"From bare reading of the application of the petitioner, prima facie, commission of congnizable offence is made out therefore the petition in hand stands disposed of, with direction to the petitioner to approach the SHO police Naseerabad Lahore along with attested copy of this order and relevant documents, who is directed to record the statement of petitioner under section 154 of Cr.P.C and proceed further strictly in accordance with the law.”
The petitioner's stance
The petitioner, Hamiza Mukhtar, has contended that Azam and her had fallen in love with each other and had a relationship that continued for a long time. She claims that she later conceived but Azam had her abort the child, consoling her and promising to marry her, saying it won't be good for them if she gave birth to a child before marriage.
Attaching all medical documents proving her abortion and her relation with Azam, she told the court that she approached the Naseerabad police to have an FIR registered against Azam on realising that she was being betrayed. However, the matter between them was resolved following Azam's assurance that he will marry her.
However, she further maintains, the accused became a famous cricket star and has "since that day ignored her and refused to solemnise the marriage with her."
She further alleges that she, once again, approached the police station to get an FIR registered against the accused, but the concerned police seemed reluctant in registering it.
The respondent further added that she requests the court to issue directives to concerned quarters to register an FIR against Azam for blackmailing and fornicating with her in the name of marriage.