Senators question Ombudsman working


Obaid Abbasi

A parliamentary panel has questioned the existence and performance of Federal Ombudsman which was supposed to protect women in work spaces.
Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Wednesday grilled the secretary Federal Ombudsman Agha Muhammad, who has not prepared his homework before briefing to the legislators of the upper house
This meeting was chaired by Senator Javed Abbasi and only a few legislators had attended. The agenda of the meeting was the evaluation of performance of Federal Ombudsman which was meant to protect the women at workplace.
The lawmakers questioned the existence of such organisation which they believed has no importance except being a burden on the national exchequer.
The Secretary Federal Ombudsman informed the committee that around 70 employees are working in the department, and this institute was established in 2010 under section 7 of the act, signifying protection for women against harassment at workplace. Currently Kashmala Tariq is the third federal ombudsman who was appointed recently.
The committee members were of the view that many things have been overlapping as courts are doing the same work and federal ombudsman entertain the application and take actions against the responsible.
However, the courts have the same work where laws are overlapping which needs to be addressed.
The committee also asked the law division to see the laws of Federal Ombudsman as well and give it opinion as well on next meeting, “We have many organizations and all are working the same work,” remarked Senator Javed Abbasi, adding that we (legislators) have to make reforms in the organizations and we do that.

The committee expressed annoyance over the Federal Ombudsperson, Kashmala Tariq, for not coming in the meeting. Secretary informed that committee that Ms Tariq was busy in another meeting. However, committee’s chairman said that senate committee is more important than any other business.
During the meeting, the secretary informed the committee that so far the ombudsman has decided 432 cases of harassment out of which 107 applicants were men and 325 were women. However, committee seemed unsatisfied and noted that this this figure seemed vague.
Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq of PML-N questioned about the nature of harassment cases, how many complaints against which organization. However, secretary failed to reply, subsequently, he was directed to come up with homework along with all record.
The committee also deferred a private, ‘The constitution amendment Bill, 2018 moved by Senator Muhammad Ali Saif.

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