No, Meesha Shafi hasn't been sentenced to three years in jail for 'criminal defamation'

Updated 16 Mar, 2021 10:32pm

Images Staff

Contrary to the reports on social media, no court has given any verdict in the Meesha Shafi and Ali Zafar legal dispute.

Contrary to what you may be seeing on social media, no court has given any verdict in the Meesha Shafi and Ali Zafar legal disputes, in either party's favour.

Shafi has become the victim of a disinformation campaign on social media deeming her "guilty", which seems to have stemmed from a report by British tabloid The Daily Mail.

"A Pakistani singer whose accusations that a pop star groped her sparked the country's #MeToo movement faces three years in jail for 'criminal defamation' over damage to his reputation," reads the article.

Many people on social media and several Indian media outlets, including Times of India and ZeeNews, took that to mean that a verdict had been handed out in Zafar's favour and Shafi had been handed a sentence — but that isn’t true.

Shafi addressed the reports on Monday evening on her social media and shared a screenshot of a Samaa Digital report that debunked the "three years in prison" headlines. “Speaking up is even harder than being harassed,” she wrote.

“This is why so many suffer in silence. Sending strength and solidarity to all those who speak up and risk their present to make way for a better future for all," she said.

Shafi’s lawyer Asad Jamal via his Twitter account set the record straight, calling it fake news.

He clarified that the trial court had not sentenced Shafi to three years in jail. "Let there be no confusion that no such verdict has been passed by any court in Pakistan," he said in his statement.

"It is ridiculous how the news media have jumped to spreading the fake news, misleading their viewers and readers by relying on an imagined reaction from my client to the imagined court verdict," he added.

Shafi in 2018 accused fellow singer Ali Zafar of harassment in a Twitter post — an allegation he has vehemently denied. Both of them have filed cases against each other in different courts with Zafar instituting a defamation suit against Shafi for accusing him of sexual harassment.

On March 11, Shafi was summoned by a Lahore judicial magistrate in the case registered against her by Zafar under the Prevention Against Cybercrime Act. He has accused her and several other people, including rapper Ali Gul Pir and actor Iffat Omer, of running a "smear campaign" against him on social media.

A legal officer for the FIA submitted a complete investigation report at the hearing which said the investigation established that all the suspects, including Shafi, posted serious/direct allegations and defamatory/derogatory content on social media against Zafar.

However, the FIA submitting an investigation report does not mean the case has been decided.

A verdict has yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, earlier in January, the Supreme Court accepted for regular hearing the plea of Shafi, seeking a direction that the provincial ombudsperson for protection of harassment against women at workplace should rehear her grievance.