ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday accepted a petition challenging the jurisdiction of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to impound CNIC of a girl by purportedly adjudicating upon the question of her paternity. 

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah issued the verdict in a petition filed by a girl Urooj Tabani against NADRA’s decision of impounding her CNIC and excluding her from the family tree. 

In the verdict, the IHC bench allowed the petition and declared the impugned orders and proceedings of NADRA as illegal, void, without lawful authority and jurisdiction.  Justice Athar declared, “The Authority is not vested with the power and jurisdiction to, directly or indirectly, adjudicate upon or interfere with intricate contested family disputes, including paternity. In such eventualities a change in the particulars incorporated in a card issued under the Ordinance of 2000 shall be subject to a declaration by a competent court.” 

He added, “The CNIC of the petitioner shall be restored and the change of paternity shall be subject to a declaration by a competent civil court. By disputing the paternity of the petitioner, the latter must have been exposed to unimaginable pain, agony and emotional distress as well as psychological trauma.” 

Urooj filed her petition challenging the jurisdiction of the NADRA to impound her CNIC by purportedly adjudicating upon the question of her paternity. After hearing the parties, the same IHC bench directed the Authority by way of an interim relief vide order dated 11-10-2019 to unblock the CNIC of the petitioner. 

She stated that the NADRA, instead of complying with this court’s order, issued a fresh CNIC showing some other person as the petitioner’s father. However, realising that this court had not passed such an order, the Authority unblocked and restored her original CNIC. 

The counsel for the petitioner argued that the Authority could not have changed the paternity of the petitioner unless there had been a declaration to this effect by a competent court and adjudication of contentious and disputed questions of fact is outside the scope of the power and jurisdiction vested in the Authority. 

The IHC bench observed in the verdict that the petitioner had unequivocally stated that she was prepared to take a DNA test so that the question of paternity is decisively settled. Similarly, the counsel for Yaqoob was asked that whether the latter was willing to accept the suggestion made by the petitioner. The counsel had sought time and on the next date of hearing Yaqoob did not consent to undergo the DNA test.