November 5th, 2021
By Ahmed Saeed
Veteran actor Saba Hameed was subjected to intense cross-examination for the second consecutive day on Friday and found herself defending her son’s decade old — and since deleted— songs in a defamation case filed by singer Ali Zafar against her daughter Meesha Shafi, a well-known showbiz name in her own right. Hameed is a witness for Shafi.
Zafar’s lawyer Umar Gill resumed his cross-examination with a question related to Hameed’s son, Faris Shafi’s rap songs. He asked the witness if it was true that the lyrics of these songs that first surfaced almost a decade ago were written by the singer and did she approve of the language used in those numbers.
Hameed’s lawyer, Saqib Jillani, objected and said that the question was not relevant to the case — prompting Gill to iterate that he had a right to ask questions about videos that had been admitted by the court as evidence.
Saba Hameed defends son’s rap music
At this moment Saba Hameed stepped forward and said she wanted to answer the question. “Rap song is a genre of music and I support and approve my son’s brilliant performances in entirety. However, the video in question has already been deleted by my son voluntarily” she said.
Hameed’s lawyer raised objections on the line of questioning. He argued that Faris was not a party to the case so there was no need to raise a question about his art and performances. Advocate Jillani also told the court that as per Qanoon -i-Shahdat Ordinance (QSO), the court and the plaintiff’s counsel could not compel her client to reply to any question she did not want to answer. He argued the court can draw its inferences at the while concluding the case.
Jillani cited Section 142 of the QSO which says: “If any such question relates to a matter not relevant to the suit or proceeding, except insofar as it affects the credit of the witness by injuring his character, the Court shall decide whether or not the witness shall be compelled to answer it, and may if it thinks fit, warn the witness that he is not obliged to answer it.”
At this point, advocate Gill intervened, noting there was no eyewitness in the harassment allegation levied by Meesha Shafi against Ali Zafar and the complainant had tried to portray Zafar as a sexual harasser only based on a few tweets in which his client used language which is considered indecent by some. “If that’s the case then the words used by Shafi in his rap songs were way filthier than Ali Zafar’s tweets”, Gill argued.
Responding to the point, Hameed said there was nothing remotely related to sexual harassment or disrespect to women in the rap videos of her son under question.
Here Gill asked Hameed a question which was apparently a source of comic relief to those inside the court, and had to be withdrawn at the court’s direction.
This brought a shift in the line adopted by the complainant’s lawyer and out came a series of questions about other harassment cases. These included the Babar Azam case, Cynthia Ritchie harassment allegations and Iqbal Park harassment incident. He said that wanted to know the views of Hameed on these harassment cases.
Harassment incidents should not be justified
About the Iqbal park harassment case, Hameed said that she was not aware of what had happened to that girl involved, but she knew the society always discouraged women who took a stand against harassment.
“The whole world saw the video of the girl [Iqbal park harassment case victim] who was sexually harassed by dozens of men. My point is whatever her lifestyle is or whatever she is wearing, is it justified to tear apart her clothes and to parade her naked? The incidents of harassment cannot and should not be justified,” Hameed told the court.
Questions about hired lawyers
Gill asked Hameed whether she knew the number of cases she filed and the number of lawyers she hired on behalf of her daughter since this matter was started in 2018.
Hameed replied that she had filed many cases and also had to hire different lawyers as the cases were filed in different tiers from lower courts to the higher courts.
Pressed by Gill to recall and reconfirm, Hameed said that since the matter was now going on for over four years and multiple petitions had been filed by either side, she couldn’t exactly remember the names of the counsels in every case and exactly where she had signed on the affidavits required to file the petitions.
‘Probing foreign funding’
Persisting, Gill asked what instruction did Hameed give to her lawyers related to different cases but the witness’s lawyer objected that such information was confidential and could not be disclosed before any forum. The court sustained the objection.
Jillani told Gill that questions related to counsels’ names had no correlation with this cross-examination and it was consuming the court’s precious time. Consequently, Gill, in a surprise move, said he could disclose the relevance of these questions only in the absence of the witness under cross examination. Hammed with the consultation of his lawyer went outside the courtroom, leaving the complainant’s lawyer to reveal that he was actually out to unveil where the respondents were getting their funds from and if those included any foreign aid.
This provided the hearing on Friday its climax. Soon afterwards, the hearing was adjourned till Nov 17.