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President dismisses false harassment complaint against DG National Assembly

ISLAMABAD, JUL 25 /DNA/ – President Arif Alvi has dismissed a false workplace harassment complaint against the Director General of the National Assembly Secretariat (NAS) by a female employee, saying that no one was allowed to abuse the process of law.

He observed that the female employee could not prove the charges of harassment at the workplace against the accused, that she failed to appear in the proceedings of the case despite several notices and that she had been found to be a non-punctual employee by the Internal Harassment Committee of the NAS.

The President gave this decision while deciding upon a representation filed by a female Assistant Director at the National Assembly Secretariat (NAS) who had filed a workplace harassment complaint against a Director General of the NAS (the accused) before the Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace (FOSPAH).

The Ombudsman had referred her complaint to the Internal Harassment Committee of the National Assembly Secretariat vide its order dated 04.12.2019 to conduct an inquiry and submit a report.

The complainant assailed the order by filing a representation with the President contending that an employee had the option to prefer a complaint either to the Ombudsman or the inquiry committee and the complainant had exercised the option of preferring the complaint to the Ombudsman who had not been vested with any power to refer the complaint to the inquiry committee of the National Assembly once the option had been exercised by the complainant.

The representation was rejected by the President on 30.06.2020 with the observation that the complainant would have a fair and unhindered opportunity of proving allegations before the Inquiry Committee and the Committee would ensure a just, fair and impartial inquiry into the allegations and, the accused officer would also have equal opportunity to defend himself.

The complainant then filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court against the decision of the President, which was also rejected.

The Internal Harassment Committee of the National Assembly Secretariat conducted the inquiry and submitted its report to the Ombudsman and stated that the complainant had failed to prove her charge against the accused. It further said that the complainant had been held non-punctual person towards her duties. FOSPAH noted that this report had been lying on the file since September 2020, but had not been objected to by the complainant so far despite having knowledge of the same.

FOSPAH, therefore, dismissed the complaint of the female employee, after which, she filed a representation with the President against the decision of the Ombudsman.

After conducting a hearing of the case, the President gave his decision and observed that the complaint filed before FOSPAH in 2019 pertained to alleged workplace harassment which took place in 2014 and the complainant failed to appear before the Ombudsman after submission of an inquiry report despite repeated notices and a belated review petition was filed that had rightly been rejected by the Ombudsman.

He noted that repeated notices were served to the complainant for appearance but she failed to appear. He said that the Workplace Harassment Act, 2010 had been promulgated to make provisions for the protection of women from harassment at the workplace and to recognize the fundamental right of citizens especially women for their dignity. He stated that no one was allowed to abuse the process of law.

The President, therefore, rejected the representation filed by the complainant and upheld the orders of FOSPAH.=DNA

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