LAHORE: Justice Muhammad Farrukh Irfan Khan of the Lahore High Court issued a notice on a petition of Punjab University Vice Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran challenging the proceedings in a sexual harassment case by the provincial ombudsperson before the Lahore High Court.
The judge issued the notices to the parties for December 3 and ordered that till then, operation of the impugned notice issued to the petitioner should be suspended.
Ombudsperson Mira Phailbus on November 5 disposed of the petition against Dr Mujahid Kamran on technical grounds. The VC filed a petition before the LHC against the attitude of the ombudsperson and her alleged failure to follow the procedure of law.
Counsel for the petitioner Pir Syed Shahid Ali Shah submitted that his client was not given a chance by the ombudsperson to defend his case and he was not served notice in person, instead he got updated in the case through the press and media reports.
The copies of the notices were instead sent to the secretary to the CM and other authorities.
He submitted that the VC being a respondent/defendant in the proceedings before the ombudsperson should have an opportunity to see the evidence that had been produced against him.
He said that without following the required procedure, the petitioner had been called to appear for personal hearing along with his evidence through the impugned notice on October 29, which prejudiced his case.
He said that when the ombudsperson could not hear the case, why the proceedings were held for over three months, and added that she should have decided the case on technical grounds when the complaint was filed.
He submitted that even the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010 was allegedly violated time and again as confidentiality was not maintained as required under the law.
He pleaded that the act mentions the word “confidential” six times in the law emphasising the importance of confidentiality during the proceedings of the inquiry process until a final decision.
He said that the spirit of the law was to take care of the social respect of the accused party until he/she was proved guilty.
He said that a propaganda campaign had been launched against the vice chancellor even before a final judgement in the case in sheer violation of the law. He submitted that the abuse of law started when the complainant lady appeared in a 45-minute live interview to a private TV channel and two already dismissed officials of the university were also present there.
He said that the complainant also addressed a press conference at the Lahore Press Club raising allegations against the probe committee and the ombudsperson and one of the dismissed officials was also present in that press conference. The counsel said that the LHC had the supervisory control to see that subordinate courts observed correctly the law and procedure. He requested the court to declare the proceedings by the ombudsperson illegal.