President rejects appeal of accused in sexual harassment case at workplace

ISLAMABAD: While deciding an appeal filed by an accused of sexual harassment at the workplace, President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday held that the request of the accused to once again cross-examine the complainant after the engagement of a fresh counsel had no ground and, therefore, rejected his appeal.

The President referred the case back to the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat for Protection Against Harassment at Workplace (FOSPAH) for final adjudication after appraisal of the evidence. The President endorsed the Ombudsperson’s observation that the appeal filed by the accused was an apparent attempt to prolong the impugned case indefinitely to enhance the anguish and agony of the complainant.

It was further observed that the matter had already consumed sufficient time in the disposal due to the accused’s miscellaneous applications and was tantamount to starting a new round of litigation which prima facie was against the spirit and scheme of the Act 2010.

The President observed that the complainant who had filed a case of sexual harassment under section 8 of the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 before the Ombudsperson on 27.05.2019 had yet not been adjudicated. The accused had filed a representation before the President against the order of 23.09.2021 for seeking permission to reexamine the complainant again by a fresh counsel which was rejected.

The President in his order observed that the complaint was filed under the Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 before the Ombudsman on 27.05.2019. The accused had earlier filed a representation before the President against interlocutory order dated 23.09.2021 for seeking permission for the cross-examination of the complainant which was rejected on 26.01.2022.

The accused filed another representation despite the fact that the proceedings of the complaint were pending before the learned Ombudsman and a decision in this regard had yet to be made after appraisal of the evidence on the question of whether the element of harassment has been established or otherwise.