A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a bill to ensure speedy justice in cases of harassment at educational institutions.
The legislation aims to protect girls, women and vulnerable people from the highhandedness of harassers in absence of any criminal law in this regard.
Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education Professional Training on Tuesday unanimously passed anti-harassment bill to ensure provision of safe environment to students in educational institutions.
The Protection Against Harassment of Students in Educational Institutions Bill, 2020, presented by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, in the Senate Session, was presented and passed in the meeting held here under the Chairpersonship of Senator Rukhsana Zuberi.
The meeting was attended by Senator Mehr Taj Roghani, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Senator Bahramad Khan and senior officers of the Ministry of Federal Education and Ministry of Law and Justice, Higher Education Commission (HEC) along with all concerned.
The committee was informed that the bill sought to ensure provision of education in a safe environment in educational institutions. It was asserted that as there was no criminal law to register such cases yet, unnecessary delay was being reported in proceedings of such cases.
The bill, it was asserted, would provide a mechanism to ensure speedy justice. On the school and college level complaints would be registered with the Deputy Commissioner and in case of universities the Higher Education Commission would take complaints and forward to a committee within three days and the inquiry committee report would be submitted within 30 days.
Chairperson of the committee, Senator Zuberi lauded the bill and the efforts that were put in beyond party lines.
It was asserted that the bill must ensure criminal proceedings and educationists found guilty must not be allowed to serve in the education sector.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, supported the bill and stated that this was the need of the hour.
Senator Roghani stressed the need for female representation in the inquiry committees.
While considering, The international Islamic University (Amendment) Bill 2020 raised by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi in the Senate, the Committee was informed that the bill sought to ensure faculty representation in University decision-making process.
The laws governing various public sector universities make it essential to have representation of teachers in their decision making bodies. However, IIU, Islamabad unlike other universities lacks this basic requirement.
This amendment bill strives to give elected faculty members effective representation in such decision-making syndicates and boards.
IIUI Rector Masoom Yasin Zai agreed that the structure followed by the University was different from those in Islamabad.
He asserted that IIU is unique in nature having a Board of Trustees comprising of rectors of leading Islamic universities of the world such as Al-Azhar University, Cairo; International Islamic University Malaysia and founder members from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Turkey, Sudan, Gambia, Algeria and others.
He said it was the fact that the roles, functions and responsibilities are different from an ordinary university; needs to be kept in view while modifying composition of different university statutory bodies.
IIUI rector also informed the committee that the inclusion of teachers to these Boards had been recommended by himself in 2017 and with the consent of the Board of Governors was forwarded to the HEC.
He added that HEC after reviewing the document should have shared amendments with the university instead of referring these to the ministry and then the Senate of Pakistan.
He requested the committee to allow him to refer this document back to the university statutory body before taking a decision on it or else the University will lose credibility.
He further stated that the university already has an Academic Council with 90 per cent faculty representation; hence the need of being part of the Board of Governors does not arise. The committee directed that the university must ensure symbolic representation of teachers to these boards. The Bill was passed unanimously by the committee.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2021.
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