President Alvi dismisses DG PEMRA from service in harassment case

Fine of Rs2.5 million also imposed on accused as president upholds federal ombudsperson’s sentence


Our Correspondent October 01, 2022
President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi. PHOTO: RADIO PAKISTAN/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

President Dr Arif Alvi upheld on Saturday the sentence awarded to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA)’s Director General Admin and HR Haji Adam by the federal ombudsperson for protection against harassment of women for harassing his subordinate at the workplace.

The president upheld the sentence of dismissal from service, but enhanced the fine imposed on the accused to Rs2.5 million from Rs2 million, for sexually harassing the woman and continuing to do so even while the case was pending before the ombudsperson. He observed that the money should be given as compensation to the woman for the hardships she faced at the hands of her superior.

“Harassment of women has to be curbed to ensure their full participation in our society,” President Alvi said, adding that it is difficult for women to bring cases before forums because of fear and further isolation.

President Alvi, while upholding the major penalty of dismissal from service, directed that the amount of compensation shall be recovered from arrears of pay (if any), pension emoluments or any other source (property) of the PEMRA DG.

The woman through her counsel, Aaliya Zareen Abbasi and Ambreen Nawaz Chaudhry, had filed an online complaint before the ombudsperson on January 20, 2020. In her complaint, the counsel narrated her grievances about being harassed while working at the PEMRA headquarter in Islamabad, on the post of RTO.

The counsel maintained that Adam’s behaviour towards the complainant turned rude, disgusting and demeaning after she refused to comply with his demands of sexual favours. Apart from passing derogatory remarks against her, they said, Adam threatened her to face dire consequences, including termination from job, if she did not comply with his unscrupulous demands.

In brief, Adam mainly contended that he had been involved in the case by his adversaries in the office, saying no element of harassment was established against him and he was dragged into litigation with ulterior motives. However, the president noted in the judgment that he could not bring on record any material evidence in his support.

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The president also noted that the evidence available on record shows that the accused had called the woman in the room of Fakhar-ud-Din Mughal, General Manager PEMRA, where “he initiated a very lewd and lascivious conversation”.

Dr Alvi has also included some parts of the conversation in the judgment. Shocking as it may seem, the conversation shows how Adam harassed her by sharing his sexual experiences during his visits to Dubai, and by offering her short-term contractual marriage after she refused his demands.

“It's good if you are of use to someone, otherwise this beautiful body will be eaten by insects,” Haji Adam told her after she turned down all his verbal and physical advances. Subsequently, the judgment states, Adam threatened her that her contract would not be renewed the next time.

“In view of the established facts,” the president stated that, “I am of the view that it is proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the Complainant was harassed with verbal, vulgar, sexual, demeaning comments and demands by the Appellant.”

The president declared that it was a flagrant violation of the laws of Pakistan, particularly the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010, and a blatant example of how women were discouraged, even the brave ones who come forward risking their reputation, to file cases of harassment.

“Women who are more than 50% in our society are unable to work freely because of harassment,” Dr Alvi noted, adding he would use the full force of the law when such matters are brought to light and are proven beyond doubt. “We must ensure a safe working environment for the female gender to unleash their great potential” and make them a part of the country’s economy.

The president also regretted that the complainant had to go through delays and repeated hearings, saying it was something that needed to be addressed.

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