President upholds penalty of PTV employees for creating hostile, offensive environment for female

ISLAMABAD   -   President Dr Arif Alvi has upheld the penalty of withholding the promotion for two years upon six PTV employees who were involved in creating a hostile and offensive work environment for a female cameraman (the complainant). 

He also held that the complainant’s termination from service was being rendered as void ab initio as disciplin­ary proceedings were initiated against her without following the due process, in a slipshod and clumsy manner, and rude and degrading actions were taken against her, President Secretariat Press Wing said in a press release on Sunday. The president gave this decision while rejecting the representations filed by PTV, Abdul Rashid, Zia-ur-Rehman, Maqbool Shah, Muhammad Munawar, and Kanwal Masood, in which the Fed­eral Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace (FOSPAH) had imposed the minor penalty of withholding of promotion for two years and fine of Rs 100,000 upon Zia-ur-Rehman, Abdul Rashid, Maqbool Shah, Kanwal Masood, Saeed Ather, and Muhammad Munawar (the respondents) for issuing charge sheets, suspension orders, transfer orders and orders to ban entry of complainant into premises of PTV in a slipshod manner. 

He, however, set aside the pen­alty of fine imposed by FOSPAH, on 16.10.2017, upon the employees in­volved in the matter. The complainant had filed a complaint before FOSPAH alleging that she had been assaulted by two employees at PTV premises and the respondents had supported them. The charges of sexual harassment, however, could not be established against the accused, however, FOSPAH had decided to impose minor penalty upon the respondents for initiating acts which amounted to workplace harassment. Earlier, the President of Pakistan on 05.01.2018 had reversed the decision of FOSPAH as the charges of sexual harassment were not proved in the case. Later, the Supreme Court of Pakistan accepted civil review peti­tions filed by the complainant (female cameraman) and Attorney General for Pakistan, set aside the earlier judg­ments of the Supreme Court and Islam­abad High Court passed in the matter and remanded the representation to the President for decision afresh. The Supreme Court in its judgment, dated 06.06.2023, had interpreted the word ‘harassment’ by elaborating that ha­rassment had two components, first pertained to sexual favors and the second was about creating a hostile or offensive working environment. It fur­ther held that facts of the case did not fall within ambit of harassment of the nature of the sexual favors rather the available record and proceedings initi­ated against the complainant in a slip­shod manner fell within ambit of hos­tile or offensive working environment.