Citizenship cannot be revoked based on intelligence report: IHC

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Bars NADRA from blocking, suspending or cancelling CNICs


Staff Reporter
Islamabad

The Islamabad High Court on Saturday ruled that the National Database and Registration Authority cannot block, suspend or cancel citizens’ identity cards, adding that such a move would be considered a transgression on its part.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued a detailed 29-page judgment, ordering the restoration of identity cards of 10 citizens, including that of JUI-F’s Senator Hafiz Hamdullah.

The CNICs of Abdul Rahim, Naik Mohammad, Mohammad Hanif and others were also restored in line with the court’s directives.

In the detailed verdict, the IHC stated that NADRA does not have the power to deprive any Pakistani of his/her right to citizenship, adding that the authority’s functions were only limited to registering citizens and maintaining the population’s database. NADRA on its own cannot block, suspend or cancel an identity card, the verdict added.

Justice Minallah announced the decision on a petition filed by Hamdullah, who had challenged NADRA’s decision. The authority had revoked his citizenship in October 2019, declaring him an “alien”.

NADRA had claimed that Hamdullah had obtained a Pakistani ID card via fraud, adding that he was an Afghan citizen and was not born in Pakistan.

The JUI-F senator had rejected the allegations and said the decision was taken on political grounds against him.

“The matter of citizenship can be taken up only by the concerned authority under the Citizenship Act. A judicial order is required to suspend or block the identity card,” read the court’s verdict.

Dismissing the allegations against the JUI-F senator, the court stated in its detailed verdict that not only was Hamdullah born in Pakistan, his son is also serving in the Pakistan Army.

The high court said there is no record or evidence to prove he wasn’t born in Pakistan, wondering how it was concluded that Hamdullah and the others were not Pakistani citizens.

The court said NADRA cannot revoke people’s citizenship based on an intelligence report alone.

Expanding upon the rights of an individual that came with Pakistani citizenship, the court reminded all parties that it is a fundamental right of every person. Without citizenship, an individual is not entitled to any political or social rights, stated the verdict.

The court said that any person who is born in Pakistan becomes a Pakistani citizen automatically.

The IHC reprimanded PEMRA for banning Hamdullah from appearing on TV, saying that the regulatory body’s decision violates the rights of a citizen as enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution.