LAHORE: The Federal Ombudsman Secretariat for Protection against Harassment of Women (Fospah) found two gazzetted officers of the Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) guilty of sexual harassment of a woman employee.

Mepco Assistant Director Khizar Hayat, a BPS-17 officer, was dismissed from service and a Rs500,000 fine was imposed on him to be paid as compensation to the complainant while Mepco Director (Admin) Mian Sohail Afzal, a BPS-19 officer, was demoted and a fine of Rs1m was imposed on him for hacking the woman’s mobile phone to blackmail her.

Mepco Headquarters Commercial Assistant Hafsa Tariq had filed a complaint for action against Mepco employees, including Hayat, Afzal, Deputy director Sohail Abbas and Director Jamshed Niazi, for sexually harassing her at workplace. She sought action under Section 8 of the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010.

Fine imposed on the guilty to be paid to complainant

She said Afzal and Hayat had deceitfully accessed her mobile phone, retrieved her personal chat and photos and blackmailed her. Besides, they shared the chat and photos with other employees of the company as well as on social media networks. She said she had been using her number since 2014 and WhatsApp as well. On April 1, 2019, she added, a news article was published [in an Urdu newspaper] with a screenshot of her WhatsApp conversation after which she realised that data of her phone had been hacked. She stated that Khizar Hayat, at the behest of Sohail Afzal, had asked for her mobile phone to make a call and hacked her data.

On Oct 7, Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Kashmala Tariq announced the verdict, available with Dawn, stating that Hayat was found guilty of harassment and his act fell within the definition of Section 2(h) of the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010. Hayat was dismissed from service and fined.

According to the verdict, there was evidence showing Sohal Afzal also guilty of sexual harassment. He was imposed a punishment of lowering his post or time-scale with Rs1m fine to be paid as compensation to the complainant.

The competent authority shall impose the penalty upon both the guilty officers within one week of the receipt of the order under intimation to the registrar Fospah.

The other accused, Sohail Abbas and Jamshed Niazi, were exonerated of the charges as cogent evidence or substance existed against them.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2022

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