Supreme Court hears case on enforcement of protection against harassment law

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ISLAMABAD: A bench of Supreme Court on Monday heard the case regarding enforcement of the law pertaining to harassment at the workplace, ARY News reported.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed heard the case.

Justice Azmat Saeed remarked during the hearing that the law will be enforced strictly without leniency for anyone.

The Punjab government submitted its response in the court today.

Justice Saeed said that the provinces were not cooperating over the issue of harassment. “This matter wouldn’t important for your but it is very important for us”, the justice remarked.

The people from Balochistan don’t appear in the court as there was no issue of harassment in the province, the bench further said.

In an interchange with the Advocate General of Balochistan, who appeared in the case, Justice Azmat Saeed said, “If you don’t want to enforce the law then leave it. You didn’t formulate rules for it. No progress either made in Punjab, all of them following the same line”.

Additional Attorney General said in the court that the federal law is equal for all provinces but the laws are different on the provincial level.

Advocate General of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said that the same federal law being enforced in KP.

Justice Azmat Saeed said that no matter what the law on harassment at workplace will be enforced strictly and no leniency will be shown to anyone. “We will settle the matter soon without any brawl”, the justice said.

The court adjourned further hearing till March 14.

In a previous hearing Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, observed that absence of complaints did not mean the issue of workplace harassment did not exist in a province.

“People feel reluctant to talk about this matter,” he remarked.

He said that the authorities should develop a mechanism that would make it easier for women to lodge complaints and directed the attorney general and provincial governments to submit responses on the interpretation of the law against harassment at workplace.

He suggested that if provincial governments meant to amend the law, they should do so to strengthen it so that women can easily come forward and file complaints of incidents of harassment at workplaces. He also said that the attorney general and provincial advocate generals should provide legal assistance to the court by consulting international law.

“We should be ashamed of ourselves if we can’t protect women from harassment,” he said.

Pakistan’s first legislation specifically addressing the issue of workplace harassment i.e. the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010, was enacted nine years ago on March 9, 2010.

The legislation has been enacted with the objective of protecting the women from harassment at workplace and for effective redressal of their complaints of sexual harassment.

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