President suspends PIDE’s compulsorily retirement orderBreaking

May 18, 2023

President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday suspended the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) compulsorily retirement order from service for lodging a workplace harassment complaint against the Vice-Chancellor (VC) and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Pro-VC) of the institute. He was of the view 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.

These remarks were given by the President 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. He 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. He added that FOSPAH had rightly suspended the notification of PIDE and held it in abeyance till the finalization of the matter. The President held that PIDE’s representation was devoid of merit and without substance, therefore, the representation of the accused was rejected.

Credit: Independent News Pakistan-INP