KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition of the K-Electric chief and three senior officials against a show-cause notice issued by the ombudsman for allegedly harassing a former colleague.

A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh directed the chief executive officer of the power utility and three other members of the senior management to file replies to the show-cause notice before the ombudsman.

They had filed a petition last year against the Ombudsman for Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Sindh and a former female colleague who had filed a complaint before the ombudsman, who subsequently issued them show-cause notices.

The petitioners submitted that the woman in question was appointed consultant in October 2019 for 35 days and in December she was appointed a full-time employee on a contractual basis as chief marketing & communication officer. In October 2020 she was sacked.

While referring to the contentions of the petitioners’ lawyer, the bench ruled that there was no bar in the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010 that a woman only during her employment can file a complaint regarding alleged sexual harassment at the workplace.

It is pertinent to mention here that the acts of harassment as claimed by the complainant had allegedly taken place in the office of KE during the period when she was working there, it added.

The bench further observed that the woman in her complaint also stated that her service was wrongfully terminated and to support her stand of sexual harassment at the workplace she along with her complaint had filed multiple transcripts of messages.

However, it said that since the matter was sub judice before the ombudsman and no evidence had so far been recorded, the bench members were refraining themselves from expressing anything.

About another contention of the petitioners’ lawyer that she did not raise her voice or file a complaint during her employment, the bench said that she in her complaint claimed that during employment in the months of July and September 2020 she verbally complained to the board of directors of KE but in October her service was terminated conceivably in retaliation and she filed a complaint in November before the ombudsman.

Regarding quashment of the show-cause notices, the bench said that it would be premature to pass such an order as evidence in the matter was yet to be recorded and soon after issuance of the impugned show-cause notices the petitioners had approached this court and since then no progress had been made in the proceedings pending before the ombudsman.

The petitioners are directed to file their reply to the show-cause notices, which will be considered on its own merits, it concluded.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Election time
Updated 27 Jan, 2023

Election time

There are concerns whether the ECP will be sufficiently able to protect the integrity of elections if they are held under partisan governments.
SCO invite
27 Jan, 2023

SCO invite

THOUGH India’s invitation to Pakistan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation events in Goa later this ...
Call to arms
27 Jan, 2023

Call to arms

ONE way the state abdicates responsibility in Pakistan is by farming out its functions to the private sector. In ...
Nuclear miscalculations
26 Jan, 2023

Nuclear miscalculations

IF the claim of former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, that Pakistan and India came close to a nuclear exchange...
Exchange rate cap
26 Jan, 2023

Exchange rate cap

THE ‘management’ of the exchange rate by the State Bank, allegedly at the behest of the government, to ward off...
Fawad’s arrest
Updated 26 Jan, 2023

Fawad’s arrest

Does the state really need to fan public discontent in a period as fraught with uncertainty as this?