NICVD security head convicted of harassment

Updated February 15, 2020

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Sindh ombudsman orders sacking of three officials after probe on complaint by two female colleagues.
Sindh ombudsman orders sacking of three officials after probe on complaint by two female colleagues.

KARACHI: The Sindh ombudsman has ordered the removal of the security head of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and his two subordinates from service after finding them guilty of harassing their female colleagues during a detailed investigation into the charges against them, officials and sources confirmed to Dawn on Friday.

A source said the historic and first-of-its-kind verdict against government officials on harassment allegation was announced by the Sindh Ombudsman for the Protection against Harassment of Women at his office in the presence of all the three accused persons, including a retired military officer, and two female complainants.

Besides being sacked, a fine of Rs150,000 was imposed on the senior official, while his subordinates were asked to pay a penalty of Rs100,000 each.

Parliament had passed a law relating to harassment at the workplace in 2009 and the then president Asif Ali Zardari signed it in 2010. In July 2012, the Sindh government appointed a retired district and sessions judge as provincial ombudsman, becoming the first province in the country to provide a legal forum to women enabling them to lodge complaints against sexual harassment at workplace.

Sindh ombudsman orders sacking of three officials after probe on complaint by two female colleagues

An official confirmed to Dawn that it was first such verdict issued by the office that had penalised government personnel on complaint of harassment at workplace.

The source said the ombudsman office sent the order to the NICVD on Friday for immediate implementation of the verdict, which was formally issued on Thursday.

A brief statement said: “The Sindh Ombudsman for the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace has made history by convicting the accused, who is a senior government official of BPS-18, Lt Col (R) Abdul Latif Dar, presently serving as Head of Security, NICVD, along with his allies Javed Hussain and Mirza Zafar Mehmood, who are security supervisors, NICVD, for causing sexual harassment, mental agony and creating hostile environment at the workplace against two of this female subordinates.

“Lt Col (R) Abdul Latif Dar, Javed Hussain and Mirza Zafar Mehmood are penalised under section 4(4)(ii) (c)(e) of the Protection against Harassment of Women at the WorkplaceAct 2010, by imposing major penalty and they are removed from their services with immediate effect and a total fine [of] Rs150,000, Rs100,000 and Rs100,000, respectively [is imposed on them] as compensation for the complainants.”

Within 24 hours of the verdict, the Sindh ombudsman approached the NICVD authorities, seeking immediate implementation of the orders with a directive to the health facility to submit a compliance report within a week.

“The copy of subject order is enclosed herewith which is self-explanatory for its compliance in letter and spirit and submission of report. You are therefore requested to deduct the fine amounts from the accounts of accused persons and transmit the same to this office,” said the ombudsman in the letter to the NICVD while issuing directives regarding payment of fine from the convicts apart from their immediate removal from the services.

The source said the two complainants, who were employees of the same institution, had approached the Sindh Ombudsman for the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace almost a year ago after the NICVD failed to take any action against the accused persons despite an internal inquiry had found all the three guilty.

CCTV footage

The situation, however, may complicate further despite the order from a legal forum as one of the accused persons after being found guilty of harassment charges made another attempt to breach the code of conduct, a police official said.

“The Saddar police station received an application from the NICVD management on Thursday night against its security head, who was convicted by the Sindh ombudsman,” said the official.

“The application for FIR against the suspect said the CCTV footage showed him collecting all official documents, laptop and other stuff of the office and driving away. He was seen in the CCTV footage visiting his office in the middle of the night and taking away all official stuff after the verdict against him.”

The official claimed that the police were in the phase of completing some formalities before registering an FIR.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2020