July 19th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
The Lahore High Court has ruled that law provides immunity in certain legal principles to a ‘Pardanasheen’ lady but this benefit cannot be provided to a woman performing multiple professional activities independently.
The court dismissed petition of a woman seeking condonation of delay in a 21-year-old dispute of transfer of shares in a company, claiming that she was a Pardanesheen lady. She filed the case after a three-year delay and took the plea of being ‘Pardanasheen’.
In his judgment, Justice Jawad Hassan stated that the term “Pardanasheen lady” has legal purport, impact and significance, which encapsulate certain defences in favour of a woman taking and establishing such plea, which are not available to other persons under the law according to a settled principle developed by the Supreme Court.
“It is a bulwark, which offers legal immunity from certain ordinary binding legal principles especially a valid legal justification to substantiate the plea for condonation of delay on the touchstone of being unaware or uninformed,” Justice Hassan observed in the 22-page verdict.
“It offers a legitimate defence to agitate a cause of action which is otherwise barred by flux of time under the applicable limitation criteria. The valid excuse of being a Pardanasheen lady therefore offers a strong ground and a reasonable consideration for exercising discretion in favour of a time barred application, as it is, if established, be taken as a sufficient cause within the contemplation of Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1908 to condone the delay,” Justice Hassan noted in his judgment.
Citing a Supreme Court judgment, the judge defined a Pardanesheen lady as ‘one who remains behind the curtain and has no communication except from behind the Pardah with any male person save a few privileged relations or dependent’.
Secondly, the court also differentiated between a Pardah observing lady and a Pardanasheen lady.
“Pardah observing lady is not necessarily a Pardanasheen lady. A Pardanasheen lady is a lady who does not appear in public according to her religious belief or according to the rule of custom followed by her,” Justice Hassan cited a Supreme Court ruling regarding the term of a Pardanasheen lady.
The judge observed that the argument of the petitioner that she being a Pardanasheen lady was unaware of the dismissal of the “first petition”, therefore, she could not file “restoration application” within the period of limitation.
“When examined on the touchstone of yardstick laid by honorable Supreme Court as stated above, this contention holds no weight as per available record,” Justice Hassan stated.
The court noted that a careful scanning of the available record revealed that the lady petitioner had been appearing personally before different courts in different cities in suits filed by the respondents.
“Surprisingly, the petitioner on the one hand had been appearing before the courts personally and also by engaging counsels independently and on the other hand, she is taking the plea of being a Pardanasheen lady, which is contrary to her conduct,” the judgment reads.
The court ruled that when the petitioner was performing such-like professional activities personally, the principle of a Pardanasheen lady and the presumption and immunities attached with it under the law, did not apply in her favour. The court dismissed the petition of Zahida Parveen as being not maintainable.