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March 14, 2018

LHC forms commission on domestic workers


March 14, 2018

LAHORE: Justice Jawad Hassan of Lahore High Court Tuesday formed a commission to ensure that the Punjab government should take legislative measures to protect the fundamental rights of domestic workers.

The commission is comprised of Punjab secretary labour, petitioner counsel Sheraz Zaka, other two advocates Sahar Umer Ata Bandial, Ahmad Pansota advocate and a representative of UNICEF.

The commission will report on the progress of the government to take legislative measures to safeguard the rights of domestic workers. The judge observed that domestic workers were being subjected to long hours work and harassed by the employees as recently it has been witnessed several incidents had taken place.

The judge formed commission by observing that it seems the government was not serious to take legislative measures although assistant advocate general produced a draft bill on protection of domestic workers rights. With these observations, the judge adjourned hearing of a social welfare worker Andleeb Abbas’s petition until March 19.

Petitioner counsel Sheraz Zaka contended that in 2015, the LHC had ordered labour secretary to consider framing policy on domestic workers regarding their wages and they should also be notified just like workers working in industrial establishments. He submitted that tender age girls and boys employed in for domestic household work are being subjected to maltreatment, yet there was no policy.

He elaborated that in South Africa and in UK, the labour rates of domestic workers in household and workers in industrial establishments are the same as both are covered under labour laws whereas there is no mention of domestic workers in labour laws of Pakistan.

He said that child labour menace had increased manifold over the past few years in household work due to the non-existence of policy or regulation for domestic workers. He said child labour in household work was damaging the reputation of the country among the comity of nations. He said earlier the LHC Chief Justice on a petition had directed the secretary labour to formulate a policy with respect to domestic workers but it was not done so far.

PHEC notification: The Lahore High Court Tuesday set aside a notification issued by the Punjab Higher Education Commission which had barred students having a five-year gap in their education from getting admissions to the province's educational institutes.

Justice Atir Mehmood ruled that the ban was unconstitutional as the PHEC secretary acted beyond his authority. The court ruled that the responsibility of making a policy lies with the cabinet while the role of the secretary is limited to ensure its enforcement.

Justice Atir Mehmood issued this order on a petition filed by a woman, Zobia Ahmed, who was denied admission to an intermediate college after having discontinued her studies for over five years following her matriculation.

The petitioner had said that she had been unable to continue her education following her marriage but decided to get admission after her divorce. She argued she was denied admission to a Faisalabad college based on a notification issued by the provincial higher education secretary, which was against her fundamental rights as a citizen of Pakistan.

The court upheld her petition, setting aside the notification. The court held that a policy should be based on "sound reasons, rational and it should be in accordance with the law". However, the judge said, the only rationale he could find for upholding the policy was that the "same aged group candidates may not be disturbed by adult students in the institutions."

The judge observed that in a number of other countries there is no embargo on receiving education in old age rather there is no age limit for education. He observed that the impugned notification/policy puts at stake future of the petitioner and many other candidates who want to complete their education at a later stage of their age. Nonetheless, "the right of education cannot be denied to any citizen of the country at any stage of their age," Justice Atir Mehmood held.

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