Ombudsman orders reinstatement of professor in workplace harassment case

By Our Correspondent
December 10, 2023

Islamabad : The Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment has issued a final order, directing the Ministry of Education and Professional Training to immediately reinstate Professor Dr. Samia Dogar to her previous position as a professor (BS-20).

The decision comes in response to an appeal filed by Dr. Samia Rehman Dogar against Waseem Ajmal Chaudhary, Secretary of the Federal Education & Professional Training (MOFE&PT), under Section 6 of the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010.

The logo of the Federal Ministry of Education. — Facebook/Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training Pakistan

The federal ombudsman raised serious concerns about the initial inquiry committee's proceedings, emphasising the violation of Dr. Samia Dogar's due process rights. The ombudsman specifically objected to the lack of cross-examination of witnesses, citing it as an integral feature of the fundamental right to a fair trial and due process under Article 10A of the Constitution. Moreover, the ombudsman highlighted the absence of Dr. Samia Dogar during the proceedings after March 14, 2023, and the failure to summon and examine a crucial piece of evidence – the video recording of a Zoom call held on February 23, 2023. The Inquiry Committee's report, dated March 22, 2023, was subsequently set aside due to these lapses.

As a result of these lapses, the ombudsman has directed the MOFE&PT to reinstate Dr. Samia Dogar and submit a compliance report by December 19, 2023. The case has been remitted to the department for a fresh inquiry into the harassment complaint, with a strict directive to conduct proceedings in accordance with the law and address the noted deficiencies. The Ministry of Education has been given a deadline of 30 days from the date of the order to provide its findings in the fresh inquiry. Dr. Samia Dogar retains the option to file a fresh complaint before the Ombudsman if she chooses not to proceed with the Inquiry Committee.

It is pertinent to mention here that Professor Dr. Samia Rehman Dogar, previously a director at the Federal College of Education (FCE), was removed from directorship and placed at Islamabad Model College for Girls, G-10/4 on an attachment basis. The administrative control of FCE was abruptly handed over to the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) on March 1, 2023. Despite her grade 20 position, Dr. Dogar found herself working under a low-ranked principal in violation of the seniority list and recruitment rules specific to the FCE.