Ombudsman directs FDE to dismiss a college teacher in harassment case | Pakistan Today

Ombudsman directs FDE to dismiss a college teacher in harassment case

  • Issuing six-page inquiry report, supervisory body imposes Rs0.2m fine on examiner for harassing students during intermediate exams
  • ‘The accused appears to be a psychopath who is a habitual sexual offender of girls, including minors. His denial of allegations has no validity’

ISLAMABAD: Federal Ombudsman has decided the case of an invigilator involved in harassing female students during intermediate exams at the Bahria College of Islamabad and directed to dismiss him from service besides imposition of Rs 200,000 fine.

The six-page inquiry report directed that the Inspector General of the Islamabad Police must form a special investigation team to take penal action against the accused of the crimes he committed against the victims. “Brief facts are that an online complaint was filed on May 31, 2018, by a second year student of the Bahria College against Saadat Bashir, lecturer in biology/practical examiner of HSSC-II examination wherein she alleged that during her biology practical, many other students including her were sexually harassed by the examiner,” the reports reads.

It is noted that she stated that he kept making perverted jokes, passed lewd comments and was touching female students at inappropriate parts of their body. Complaints against the examiner also came to the attention of the media and the matter was reported in various newspapers and social media forums as similar allegations were brought against Saadat Bashir by various other students.

Upon information, notices were issued to chairman of the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE), secretary of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) and the vice chancellor of the Bahria College to submit inquiry report(s) before this office, said Kashmala Tariq, the federal ombudsman, in the report.

The inquiry reports were submitted by the FBISE secretary vide letter dated June 22, 2018, and by FDE director vide letter dated June 21, 2018, respectively. However, the reports stated that despite repeated notices by this office, the competent authority (FDE) has not imposed any penalty even though a period of three months has passed by.

In exercise of power under Section 15 of the Federal Ombudsman Institutional Reforms Act 2013 (FOIRA) and in the best administration of the justice as the instant complaint consists of juveniles/minors being the victims, this office is adjudicating upon the matter based on the available record and written reports filed by the agencies i.e. FDE and FBISE.

The committees conducted detailed interviews and written statements of the victims and reply by the accused. After comprehensive interviews and recording of the statements of the stakeholders, the committees endorsed that examiner has passed obnoxious remarks and vulgar gestures of sexual excitement and inappropriate touching of the female students.

The male students of the practical examination were also interviewed by the committee and they have submitted their written statements. The accused was also asked to provide his written statement regarding the allegations and questions raised by the inquiry committee. In his reply, he took the plea of malafide and denied that all such allegations e.g. inappropriate touching of students, sexual harassment, passing vulgar remarks, attempt to molest the modesty of students, targeting of students for sexual advances and exercise of undue influence and coercion.

FINDINGS: The facts and circumstances of the instant complaint are extraordinary in nature as it relates to sexual exploitation committed by a teacher against his students notwithstanding the fact that the victims in the instant complaint are minors/juveniles. A perusal of the record shows that many students appeared before the committee and confirmed the inappropriate touching and sexual harassment by the examiner.

Prima facie, it appears from the examination of the record that there is an overwhelming number of the victims against the accused from the year 2016, 2017 and 2018. Considering that many incidents went unreported, such a huge number of complaints cannot be based on malafides. An essential point of law in cases of sexual harassment is that the presumption of truth is attached to the complainant unless the accused proves otherwise.

The accused appears to be a psychopath who is a habitual sexual offender of girls including minors. His denial of allegations has no validity and it is evident from the statements of the students and cross-examination by the committees that the accused is guilty of the allegations against him. The accused took advantage of his position given the power relationship between him and his students. Due to the moral standing of a teacher, the accused deserves no leniency whatsoever.

It was recommended that major penalty under Section 4(4){ii) of dismissal from service including a fine of Rs 200,000 is imposed on the accused on having been found guilty of sexual harassment of minor students under the Protection Against Harassment of Women Ai the Workplace Act 2010 (the Act of 2010).

The FDE and FBISE should make arrangements for psycho-social counselling of all the victims who suffered at the behest of accused and submit the report to this office expeditiously. Besides, it was recommended that minor penalty under section 4(4)(i) of the Act of 2010 of censure to Ms Saboohi Hussain, head of the Biology Department of the Bahria College for keeping silence over the complaints and not encouraging the victims to report the issue, as the actions of the accused were in her knowledge.

“FDE secretary is required to ensure display Code of Conduct Act 2010 in English as well as in Urdu understood by the teachers and the students at conspicuous locations in colleges and examination halls in Islamabad,” the report reads. It was directed that FDE should conduct a survey of the students in different schools, colleges and the universities who suffered from harassment by any teacher and submit a report to this office.

Since a huge scandal is on the surface from this examination, the circumstances of which have become highly dubious. It is recommended that Bahria College and FBISE should make arrangements for re-take of the biology practical for the year 2018.

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