LAHORE - The Lahore High Court Tuesday constituted a commission to ensure the Punjab government makes laws to safeguard fundamental rights of domestic workers.

Justice Jawad Hassan passed the order on a petition moved by Andleeb Abbas.

The court formed commission consisting of Punjab labour secretary, petitioner counsel Sheraz Zaka, two other lawyers Sahar Umer Ata  Bandial, Ahmad Pansota and a Unicef representative.

The judge directed the commission to report whether the government was taking legislative measures to protect the rights of the domestic workers.   The judge observed that the domestic workers being harassed by their employees and were being subjected to hours long work. The judge also referred to a number of incidents wherein children were subjected to torture and severe violence besides hours long duty.  The judge adjourned the proceedings until March 19

Petitioner’s counsel Sheraz Zaka argued that the LHC three years ago had ordered labour secretary to make policy for the domestic workers regarding their wages and that they should be notified just like workers working in industrial establishments.

He  said that tender age girls and boys were employed in for domestic household work were being subjected to maltreatment, yet there was no policy or law to deal with their problems. He further 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 was 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 domestic household work due to the non-existence of policy or regulation for the domestic workers. He said that the child labour in domestic household work was damaging the reputation of the country amongst the comity of nations with the recent past incident of Tayyaba given a mal treatment by the wife of a session judge. He said that earlier the LHC Chief Justice on a petition had directed the secretary labour to formulate a policy with respect to domestic workers doing household work but it was not done so far.

Anti- judiciary speaches case

The Lahore High Court on Thursday issued notices to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority and other respondents on a petition questioning alleged contemptuous speeches of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Safdar and other leaders of PML-N.

Justice Shahid Karim was hearing the petition moved by Amna Malik challenging coverage of alleged anti-judiciary speeches of the PML-N leaders.

Advocate Azhar Siddique who appeared on behalf of the petitioner contended that Nawaz Sharif’s anti-judiciary speeches were continuing against the state institution since his disqualification by the Supreme Court in Panama papers’ case. He said his daughter Maryam also following his footsteps. The lawyer said both had been running vilification campaign against the judiciary.

The counsel referred to ongoing public gatherings being addressed by the ousted prime minister and said that he committed contempt through his speeches and targeted the judges of the superior courts.

He stated that anti-judiciary speeches were live telecast and PEMRA which was relevant authority did not stop any TV from airing those remarks. Thus, he said PEMRA violated the law and was equally responsible for the ongoing vilification campaign. The apex judiciary had jurisdiction over all issues of a judicial nature and exclusive authority to decide whether an issue was political or non-political. He said PEMRA failed to implement its code of conduct against airing of hate speeches and stuff containing defamation and contempt.

He prayed to the court to order the Pemra to ban broadcasting of hate speeches by the respondents as it could lead to anarchy in the country. Moreover, he said the act of the respondents was not only a contempt of court in view of Article 204 of the Constitution but also sedition. He also asked the court to suspend licenses of television channels for airing hate material, hate speeches, derogatory remarks against the state institutions.