PIA Reappoints Officer Earlier Dismissed For Sexually Harassing Female Colleague

PIA Reappoints Officer Earlier Dismissed For Sexually Harassing Female Colleague
A petition has been filed against Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for re-appointing an official previously removed from his position over allegations of sexual harassment. Captain Kaleem Chughtai was re-appointed by the national flag carrier as Chief Pilot Training in 2020 despite having been dismissed in 2013 following Supreme Court and high court's decisions to remove him over sexual harassment complaint lodged by a female pilot, Rifat Haye.

In 2012, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had ordered Kaleem Chughtai's dismissal as GM ATR at the PIA over accusations of sexual harassment -- a decision that was later upheld by the SC.

However, he was reappointed to an even more senior position last year in defiance of orders of the apex court, Lahore High Court and National Assembly standing committee concerned that had also recommended his removal after hearing the case.

The petition says that his reappointment was against the very principle and notes that a harasser found guilty and removed from office is reappointed in a more powerful position in the same environment few years later.  "This negates and defeats the very purpose of such an order and the 2010 [Protection Against Harassment at the Workplace Act, 2010]. Such reappointment allows a harasser to continue to misuse his power and harassing conduct," the petition says.

The petitioner has urged the PIA management to enforce the code of conduct in order to ensure a work environment free of harassment and intimidation, saying that the man's new position grants him 'immense authority' over training pilots when in the same environment he had already been held guilty of harassment.

The National Assembly standing committee had in 2010 also recommended removing the respondent from his position as GM ATR. According to the petition, the decision was taken after much deliberation by the National Assembly standing Committee "in order to prevent further misuse of his authority."

Meanwhile, sources say that due to his influence he is also being considered for the position of Chief Operation at PIA.