Another harassment scandal emerges at PLRA


–SCO Farzana Aslam accuses CFO Kamran Hafeez of inappropriate behaviour

–HR director says Farzana playing blame game after her reinstatement was declared irregular


LAHORE: Another case of workplace harassment has emerged at the Punjab Land Record Authority (PLRA) after Service Centre Official (SCO) Farzana Aslam lodged a complaint against Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Kamran Hafeez.

According to the show-cause notice issued to the accused by the provincial ombudsperson, the accused has been creating a hostile environment for the complainant. The notice stated that the accused had been repeatedly summoning the complainant in his office without any particular reason and had been using inappropriate language while also staring at her in an inappropriate manner.

“When you continuously stared at her, she asked you to tell her the purpose for summon, and you yelled at her and told her to get lost. You also threatened to get her terminated,” the notice stated.

The notice added that the accused had initiated multiple inquiries against her and had threatened to get the complainant terminated.

The notice also stated that the accused had been involved in the complainant’s character assassination and had tried to defame her for being allegedly corrupt. “You defamed her by saying she goes to property dealers’ offices where she deals with people. You got her terminated from her job in retaliation and when she was reinstated in service, you, in connivance with the director general, again initiated an inquiry against her. You kept her file for two months and when she came to you to retrieve it, you asked her to apologise. When she asked you to explain her mistake, you said that you are aware that she has committed no error but if she wants to continue her job, she must obey her senior officer, whether his demands are legitimate or not,” the notice added.

“When she was reinstated on the orders of the Supreme Court, you started retaliation against her by stopping her salary,” the notice further stated.

The ombudsperson, therefore, deduced that the allegations leveled against the accused by the complainant amount to harassment under Section 2 9ho of the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010.

The ombudsperson’s office also wrote a letter to PLRA director general, stating that necessary action should be taken to ensure the protection of the complainant from any retaliatory action.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, PLRA Human Resource Director Nadia Ahmad said that this is not a case of harassment but a case of irregular reinstatement. “Farzana was terminated over misconduct but her services were later restored in October 2018 keeping in view the human rights case before the chief justice and the ‘lenient view of the DG’,” she said.

“We wrote a letter to S&GAD and requested for their advice over the reinstatement of terminated employees, to which they replied by saying that such employees cannot be reinstated by the department,” she added.

“I too am a female officer and have been working here for a long time but I have not found the environment to be favourable for harassers. The blame game actually started when the authority stopped the salaries of 12 reinstated employees,” Nadia concluded.

In a response letter dated August 19, 2019, S&GAD Secretary (Regulations) stated that the case had been examined in the regulations wing and it had been decided that only the concerned appointing authority can terminate and reinstate employees. Contractual appointments are governed under the Contract Appointment Policy, 2004 and there is no provision under the said policy for the reinstatement of employees terminated for misconduct/inefficiency or malpractices, the letter added.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, Farzana Abbas, the complainant in the case, said that she was terminated by the authorities for wrong reasons. “My kid was ill and admitted in the hospital and I took a leave for this purpose. They terminated me on the basis of that leave despite the fact that I submitted all medical certificates required for processing. Initially, they transferred me to Sharaqpur and then terminated me in 2017. I submitted so many applications for my reinstatement but in vain. Finally, I went to the Supreme Court Registry Branch on April 28, 2018 and the court ruled in my favour the same month but they reinstated me on October 30, 2018,” she said.

“I worked at PLRA for 10 months after my reinstatement but I was only paid for two months. They even stopped my biometric attendance without any information. When I asked about my salary, the finance and HR department told me that my reinstatement was irregular,” she added.

“I worked unpaid for eight months. How is it possible that they were unaware of ‘irregularity’ of my reinstatement,” she asked.

Farzana further said that the senior officials of PLRA have no respect for lower and female staff. “I have two kids and have been working at PLRA for a long time but that does not make them respect my position. They only entertain people who bribe them,” she added.

Sources informed this scribe that Kamran Hafeez has already responded to the show-cause notice. Pakistan Today also tried to contact him but no response was received till the filing of this report.