Digital company issued notice over journalist’s damages suit | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Digital company issued notice over journalist’s damages suit

PESHAWAR: A local court has issued notice to a digital news company over a damages suit filed by a senior journalist claiming that his employment contract was arbitrarily cancelled causing mental torture and stress to him.

The additional district and session judge, Ijazur Rehman Qazi, fixed Oct 21 for next hearing of the case directing the company through its chief executive officer to respond to the suit.

The journalist, Ghulam Dastagir, has sought damages from the defendant to the tune of Rs10 million for the alleged violation of the contract between him and the company, Saar Digital Private Limited, of July 1, 2022, and Rs90 million for levelling baseless allegations, while terminating his employment contract, which caused agony, fatigue and mental torture and stress to him.

The plaintiff stated that he had suffered mental trauma and had to seek medical attention to overcome it which still continues.

He stated he had received the termination message at 1pm on April 3, 2023 — just 13 hours ahead of flying to London for participating in the prestigious South Asia Journalism Fellowship.

Additionally, he stated that the fact that soon he was abroad for around two months, the termination message exacerbated his distress.

Advocate Enayatur Rehman represented the plaintiff and contended that since the defendant had violated the mandatory condition of prior notice of one month besides condemning his client unheard, the plaintiff had now been demanding damages from the defendant.

He stated that the termination message by the defendant containing baseless allegations had stigmatised and maligned his client having an unblemished career of over 25 years.

He also claimed that after the termination email in early April 2023, the company had not paid the plaintiff a single penny, making it extremely difficult for him to run his household of seven people, including old and ailing parents and three little daughters, two of them school-going.

He requested the court to ensure that the company continues to pay him monthly salary until this lawsuit is settled.

The plaintiff stated in his suit that he was an established journalist with over 25-year experience in the field during which he had served national and international media and human rights organizations. He has provided details of all the organisations wherein he had served stating that he did a number of investigative reports on such sensitive topics as human rights abuses during Pakistan’s war on terror, missing persons’ phenomenon, cross-border smuggling and religious extremism.

He stated that he was never fired from the service by any of the highly reputed organisations where he had worked.

He stated that he was hired as staff member by the defendant in Oct 2021 and the employment contract between him and the defendant came into force on July 1, 2022.

He claimed that he had worked as an integral part of the website’s editorial team and since his hiring in Oct 2021, the defendant had never raised any question over his performance.

Source: Dawn

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