ISLAMABAD: The federal ombudsman for the protection against harassment of women at the workplace on Tuesday suspended the service of a senior Pemra official to prevent influence in an inquiry.
Ombudsperson Kashmala Tariq was hearing a complaint filed by a Pemra employee against a human resource and administration official in which the employee accused him of abuse of authority and sexual harassment.
Ms Tariq ordered the suspension of the Pemra official’s service and directed him and other senior officials, including the Pemra chairman, to appear at the next hearing.
Speaking to the press after the hearing on Tuesday, the counsel for the complainant, Aliya Zareen, said the next hearing would be on Feb 19.
She said the query against the chairman was regarding his response to the complaint against the official.
“Madam ombudsperson noted that it was ambiguous to understand why another seven-member inquiry committee was constituted by chairman PEMRA in the presence of a legally valid three-member inquiry committee in this regard,” Ms Zareen said.
It was noted in the court of the ombudsperson that a three-member inquiry committee against the harassment of women in the workplace already existed in Pemra, which was established according to the requirements of the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010.
Section 3 of the act states that each organisation shall constitute an inquiry committee to look into complaints. Section 3(2) also highlights that only a three-member committee can be formed.
It states: “Committee shall consist of three members of whom at least one member shall be a woman. One member shall be from senior management and one shall be a senior representative of the employees or a senior employee where there is no CBA. One or more members can be co-opted from outside the organisation if the organisation is unable to designate three members from within as described above.”
The complainant said a new committee was formed by Pemra’s top management but the original three-person committee was not dissolved.
In her complaint, the Pemra employee said the accused official initiated a vulgar conversation with her in the office of another Pemra officer on Nov 11, 2019. The other officer has also been named in the complaint as a co-accused.
The employee lodged a complaint with the Pemra chairman on Jan 10. In response, the management formed a seven-person inquiry committee.
Both the accused officials are out of the country, with one expected to return on Feb 7 and the other on Feb 17.
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2020