LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday stayed proceedings before an inquiry commission probing into allegation of sexual harassment leveled against former director general of the National Accountability Bureau-Lahore, Shahzad Saleem, and others by a complainant, Ms Tayyaba Gul.

Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti issued the stay order after hearing initial arguments of Mr Saleem’s counsel Safdar Shaheen Pirzada.

The counsel argued that the inquiry commission issued a call-up notice to the petitioner on Sept 27, requiring him to appear in person on Sept 28.

He argued that the impugned notice issued by the inquiry commission and subsequent hearing were illegal, unlawful and without jurisdiction. He stated that all the acts done in “good faith” as NAB officials were protected under the law as envisaged by section 36 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

He said the complainant woman leveled ‘frivolous’ allegations against the petitioner and other officials of the NAB only to get fame in the media/social media.

The counsel argued that according to the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act, 2017, a commission could only be formed if a matter of public importance. However, he said, in the present case the matter was person-oriented and under judicial scrutiny as well.

He asked the court to set aside the impugned notices and the proceedings before the inquiry commission against the petitioner.

The chief justice suspended the impugned proceedings and adjourned the hearing for submission of replies of the respondents by Oct 18.

Previously, the court had restrained the inquiry commission from taking “coercive measures” against the four NAB officials facing the inquiry.

The federal government had formed the commission to investigate into the allegations of “sexual offences, including assault, harassment, misconduct and misuse of authority” made by Ms Gul against former NAB chairman Javed Iqbal, Lahore DG Saleem Shahzad and others.

EPA DG summoned: The Lahore High Court has summoned the director general of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in a petition questioning the violation of environment laws by a sugar mills in Sargodha, harming the lives of the locals.

Rao Kashif Mumtaz, of Bhalwal, Sargodha district, filed the petition saying he lived in the vicinity of the “distillery plant” installed by the Noon Sugar Mills and being neighbour / stakeholder like others residing in the very area, is severely aggrieved by the over-polluting, painful and health-damaging consequences caused by the plant.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that the plant discharged dangerous effluent in the form of alcoholic liquor, foul odour of indiscriminate discharge of wastewater, and beyond the lawful limit value of carbon monoxide.

The lawyer said the effluent being released into the drainage system caused a disastrous impact on the health of the citizens living in the area. He explained that the effluent caused environmental problems related to water and land pollution. He argued that the respondent mills had been continuously violating the environmental laws and the EPA took no action to check the malpractice.

Justice Shahid summoned the EPA director general in person to explain his position and adjourned the hearing till Oct 3.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2022

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