ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday accepted for regular hearing the plea of artist Meera Shafi popularly known as Meesha Shafi who is embroiled in a dispute with another singer Ali Zafar, seeking a direction that the provincial ombudsperson for protection of harassment against women at workplace should rehear her grievance.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam also issued notices to Advocate General Punjab as well as the singer Ali Zafar.
Artist Meesha Shafi has pleaded before the Supreme Court to accept the present appeal and set aside the Oct 11 Lahore High Court (LHC) order of upholding the conclusion reached by the provincial ombudsperson for the protection of harassment against women at workplace.
Both Meesha Shafi and Ali Zafar are locked in a dispute when Zafar instituted a defamation suit against her for accusing him of sexual harassment.
While denying the allegations Zafar pleaded before the trial court hearing the defamation suit to pay restitution for levelling false allegations and thus damaging his reputation.
Moved through Advocate Khawaja Ahmad Hosain, the appeal requests the apex court to order that her case be remanded back to the provincial ombudsperson with a direction that her complaint be heard and decided under the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Work Place Act 2010 against Zafar on merits in accordance with the law.
The singer had filed the complaint under Section 8 of the 2010 act relating to an incident at the workplace where she and the singer were rehearsing for an event where they had to perform.
But the ombudsperson office rejected the complaint on May 3, 2018 on the grounds that the petitioner was not an employee and therefore not covered under the act.
Subsequently the order was challenged before LHC which on Oct 11, 2019 also dismissed the same by upholding the ombudsperson rejection.
On Monday the counsel argued before the Supreme Court that the students at educational institutions were not employed by such institutions but they were also harassed and the allegations of harassment were prosecuted before the forums concerned.
In her petition, Shafi argued that the ombudsperson order was based solely on a provision in the contract between the petitioner and JS Events and Production – an entity which had employed the petitioner pursuant to a contract of Dec 7, 2017.
According to the work plan under the contract, the petitioner was required to rehearse at the singer’s studio and to perform two songs in collaboration with Zafar.
The appeal contended that the studio where she had to rehearse clearly falls within the definition of the work place under the act.
Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2021