ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: President Dr. Arif Alvi has suspended the order of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) to impose the major penalty of compulsory retirement from service upon a woman employee who had filed a workplace harassment complaint against the Vice Chancellor (VC) and Pro-Vice Chancellor (Pro-VC) of PIDE.
The president said that PIDE had violated the spirit of the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010 by compulsorily retiring the woman complainant while the proceedings of the inquiry into the alleged harassment against VC and Pro-VC were still sub-judice before FOSPAH.
President Arif Alvi gave these remarks while rejecting a representation filed by the VC and Pro-VC of PIDE against the order of the Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace (FOSPAH) wherein FOSPAH had suspended the order of the compulsory retirement of the complainant and held it in abeyance till the disposal of the complaint on its merits.
As per details, a female Research Economist at PIDE (the complainant) had filed a workplace harassment complaint before FOSPAH on 09.01.2023 against VC and Pro-VC of PIDE (the accused).
The inquiry proceedings were initiated by FOSPAH but while the matter was still sub-judice, a major penalty of compulsory retirement from service was imposed upon the complainant by PIDE through a notification dated 20.03.2023.
FOSPAH suspended the order of PIDE till the disposal of the case and restored the complainant to her position. The accused, then, filed a representation against FOSPAH’s decision with the President.
The president rejected the stance of the accused that the complainant was retired due to disciplinary issues and that the imposition of a major penalty did not pertain to workplace harassment.
President Arif Alvi observed that FOSPAH Act 2010 provided that no adverse action should be taken against a complainant or witnesses during the inquiry proceedings but PIDE had retired the complainant in violation of the spirit of the Act, which was a special law having overriding effect.
The president added that FOSPAH had rightly suspended the notification of PIDE and held it in abeyance till the finalization of the matter. He held that PIDE’s representation was devoid of merit and without substance; therefore, the representation of the accused was rejected.