President upholds dismissal of Pemra DG in harassment case

Published October 2, 2022
President Arif Alvi speaks during an interview on DawnNews. — Screengrab
President Arif Alvi speaks during an interview on DawnNews. — Screengrab

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi, while upholding the decision of the Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace, on Saturday awarded the major penalty of “dismissal from service” to the Pemra director general (DG) and also enhanced the fine from Rs2 million to Rs2.5 million.

He held that it had been established beyond any reasonable doubt that the female employee was harassed by the accused with verbal, vulgar, sexual and demeaning comments and demands.

According to a statement, the president observed that he took strong exception and used the full force of the law when such matters were brought to light and were proven beyond doubt to ensure a safe working environment for women. This, he added, was aimed at unleashing their great economic potential which remained unexploited due to their fear of harassment at the workplace.

The president ordered that the amount of compensation should be recovered from arrears of pay (if any), pension emoluments or any other source (property) of the appellant as per Section 4(i)(d) of the Protection Against the Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010. He said it should be given to the complainant as compensation in lieu of the hardships faced by her at the hands of the appellant.

Increases fine to Rs2.5m, wants compliance report furnished

The landmark decision was announced after the president gave personal hearings to the accused, the complainant and their counsel on July 22, 2022, and July 25, 2022, besides factoring in the evidence and recording the statements of the witnesses on record and minutely perusing the entire proceedings of the case.

In his decision, the president noted that the accused continued harassing the complainant unabated even during the proceedings of the case by ombudsperson, in his suspension period, by filing applications against the complainant with the Islamabad police chief and the FIA director general, cyber crime wing Islamabad, thus inflicting grave mental torture on the complainant and putting her repute at stake.

The president said the act of the accused was a flagrant violation of the laws of Pakistan, particularly the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010.

He observed that it was a blatant example of how women were discouraged, even those brave ones who came forward risking their reputation, to file cases of harassment.

“Statistics with reference to the number of cases are infinitesimal as compared to the anecdotal discussion of the frequency of harassment in our society,” he added.

Mr Alvi said that Islam kept women in high esteem and provided them with the right to pursue gainful occupations and employment by ensuring a safe, secure, dignified and respectful workplace environment.

He said a recent judgement of the Supreme Court in a case of harassment noted: “It is time to pave the way towards the actualisation of robust and unwavering constitutional ideals and values by embracing the participation of women in all spheres of life with honour and dignity.”

Keeping in view the established facts of the case, the president directed the relevant authority to implement the order in letter and spirit and furnish compliance report to the registrar of the federal ombudsperson.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2022

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