Harassment galore at PLRA, claims female officer


–Assistant Director Irum Shahzadi says former PLRA DG’s ‘loyalists’ have made her life ‘miserable’

LAHORE: A Punjab Land Record Authority (PLRA) female officer has lodged a harassment application with the Punjab Ombudsperson against senior officials of the department, accusing them of employing different tactics to “punish” her for filing a complaint against their former director general.

In her application addressed to Punjab Ombudsperson Rukhsana Gillani, PLRA Assistant Director Irum Shahzadi has accused Director Vigilance Col (r) Saqib and Director Policy Planning Procurement and Quality Assurance Rizwan Nazeer of harassing her after she lodged a complaint against former PLRA director general (DG) Captain (r) Zafar Iqbal last year for allegedly misbehaving with the female staff.

Taking notice of Shahzadi’s complaint, Mian Saqib Nisar, who was the then chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), had suspended the DG with immediate effect, saying that those who misbehaved with female staff members had no right to remain in power. The former CJP had also suspended the “illegal transfer” of Shahzadi to another district while warning other high-ups that such behaviour would not be tolerated.

On July 16, 2019, a show-cause notice was issued to Shahzadi by the incumbent PLRA DG, which informed her that she was accused of corruption by a complainant named Nazeer Ahmed.

Per the notice, the complainant had alleged that Shahzadi was delaying the issuance of a fard (mutation certificate) without any reason and was asking for money in return for his “lawful work”. The complainant had also submitted telephonic record which implied that the official had demanded Rs50,000 for the issuance of the fard, sources added.

They further said that an inquiry committee was formed over the issue and Rizwan Nazeer, one of the accused in the harassment complaint, was also part of the committee.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, Shahzadi that she is being victimised and persecuted because she stood against the “tyrant and sadist” Zafar Iqbal.

She said that it all started when Captain (r) Iqbal transferred her to ARC Safdarabad.

“I was in the sixth month of my pregnancy and was suffering from multiple gynaecological complications. Despite my repeated requests, he [Iqbal] refused to withdraw my transfer orders and instead initiated an inquiry against me for being absent from the Safdarabad station,” she added.

“I live in Lahore cantonment with my in-laws and during that particular period, my doctor had advised me against travelling long distances but the former DG did not even accept my medical certificate and put mine and my child’s life at risk to satisfy his ‘sadist nature’. I was left with no choice but to approach the court and thankfully the former CJP suspended Iqbal,” she said.

Shahzadi claimed that the matter did not end there.

“Iqbal’s cronies, who derived multiple benefits during his tenure, ganged up against me and did not miss a single opportunity to humiliate and defame me.

“I am a married woman with two kids and I cannot afford to continue my fight against this lobby anymore as I have suffered enough mental agony already,” she said.

The latest notice issued to Rizwan Nazeer states, “The allegations levelled against you by complainant, Irum Shahzadi, briefly, are that you harassed the complainant without any reason; you referred to complainant’s character assassination; you created difficulties in performance of her duty and you got fake news published about the complainant; you issued a warning letter to the complainant despite the fact that she was present on duty on the 17th  and 19th of July 2019; you got an inquiry initiated against the complainant regarding a two-year-old matter of mauza Sultanabad; you got other inquiry initiated against the complainant concerning mauza Hatra; you illegally checked mutations made by complainant after her transfer from Model Town, you degraded complainant by getting news published against her regarding initiation of inquiries against her; you tried to prove that complainant was corrupt by getting news published against her which resulted in her defamation, you harassed the complainant that she should leave her job. The allegations levelled against you by the complainant. prima facie, amount to “harassment” in terms of Section 2 (h) of the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010.”

Whereas the notice issued to Col (r) Saqib states, “The allegations levelled against you by the complainant, Ms Irum Shahzadi, briefly, are that you defamed the complainant by getting false news published against her; you did not leave any stone unturned in making complainant’s character assassination; you sent your assistant Mr Abid in order to saw complainant’s office for an illegal work and he misbehaved with the complainant; when the complainant complained about the behaviour of Mr Abid Saqi, he started a fake propaganda against her, got an inquiry initiated against her who came to her office and even set on her office chair; you talked everywhere in a wrong way and filthy manner against the complainant. The allegations levelled against you by the complainant, prima facie, amount to “harassment” in terms of Section 2 (h) of the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010. Your written defence should reach this office within five days of the receipt of this show-cause notice and the failure to do so, without reasonable cause can lead to ex-parte proceedings against you. The complaint is fixed for hearing on September 6, 2019 at 11 am.”

When contacted, Rizwan Nazeer said that he had never met Irum Shahzadi and she never attended any meeting of the inquiry committee. He also said that he had submitted his written response to ombudsperson as well.

Col (r) Saqib was unavailable for comment.