LAHORE - The Lahore High Court yesterday announced detailed verdict in contempt petition against Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Yasmeen Abbasi holding that that Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) can remove Federal Ombudsperson from the office due to her insubordinate and contemptuous conduct.

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah of the Lahore High Court passed the judgment. In his verdict, the judge ruled that Section 5 of the Federal Ombudsman Institutional Reforms Act, 2013 empowers Supreme Judicial Council to remove an ombudsman from office on the grounds of being incapable of properly performing duties of his office by reason of physical or mental incapacity or found to have been guilty of misconduct.

The judge held that “The insubordinate and recalcitrant conduct of the Federal Ombudsman is unbecoming and offends the honour and prestige of the constitutional court. Her disobedient conduct, prima facie, attracts section 5 of the Act, 2013 which provides for removal of Ombudsman.”

The court directed the registrar office to place a copy of the judgment before Supreme Judicial Council so that it might be treated as a reference against the federal ombudsperson for her removal in terms of Section 5 of the Act, 2013.

The verdict said that the ombudsperson defied court’s orders by taking shelter behind sub-constitutional legislation. The judgment held that Section 18 of the Federal Ombudsman Institutional   Reforms Act, 2013 is a sub-constitutional legislation and cannot control or regulate the powers of the constitutional court under the Constitution, Justice Shah held relying on two judgments of a full bench of the LHC.

The court ruled that the Ombudsperson could not understand properly the meaning of Section 18 of the Act which says “  “No Court or authority shall have jurisdiction to entertain a matter which falls within the jurisdiction of an Ombudsman nor any court or authority shall assume jurisdiction in respect of any matter pending with or decided by an Ombudsman.” Section 18 being sub-constitutional legislation cannot regulate the powers of the constitutional courts under the Constitution, the judgment held.

On May 11, Federal Ombudsperson issued bailable arrest warrant of Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah on the basis of what she said that respect of her office (Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace ) was flouted when she appeared before the judge in Lahore High Court. She alleged that the judge misused his powers and did not maintain the status he held as a judge of a Constitutional court. She had also written in her order that order of the ombudsperson office was also not complied with which was tantamount to the contempt of Ombudsman office.

On her arrest warrant, Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali took suo motu notice on the other day, suspended the warrants and summoned the ombudsperson to explain as to why she issued arrest warrant of a sitting judge and adopted a contemptuous conduct.