Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal appeared before the Supreme Court on Monday for the hearing of a suo motu case regarding overseas Pakistanis being charged an extra amount as an issuance fee for Pakistan Origin Cards (POC).
“Are you angry at coming to the Supreme Court?” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar asked the minister who responded in the negative.
Iqbal then put forward his own request for the court to look into the delay in construction of a school in Narowal on the orders of a high court judge.
The CJP asked the minister for the case’s file number, saying the bench would address his concern.
“You consider the courts to be your enemy — they are the assets of the public and the state,” he said.
Last week, Iqbal had failed to appear for the hearing and the court was told by National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Chairman Usman Mobeen that he was on a visit to Gwadar. On Mobeen’s request, the court had adjourned the hearing until today.
The case, that had come to the court’s attention last year after a non-resident Pakistani registered a complaint, was being heard by a three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Nisar. The overseas citizen had claimed that the issuance fee for a POC had increased to Rs22,000, and the cancellation fee to Rs31,500.
The chief justice on Monday told the minister to work towards enabling overseas Pakistanis to vote in the upcoming general elections.
“Overseas Pakistanis should have the right to vote,” the CJP said. He directed the federal government to submit a response on the fee hike for non-resident Pakistanis’ identity cards.
The hearing of the case was adjourned until March 28.
Nadra had earlier claimed before the court that the price of the new chip-based smart identification card was comparatively high due to its distinctive features.
It said the chip-based POC was equipped with 36 security features (overt and covert) intended to preserve a citizen’s identity more efficiently by preventing all types of forgery.