ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday sought a written reply from the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) for charging an exorbitant fee for issuance and cancelation of identity cards of Pakistanis living abroad.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar directed the Nadra to inform how the rates for issuance and cancellation of the card were fixed.

The chief justice has taken suo motu notice on the application of overseas Pakistani that the Nadra has been charging unnecessary exorbitant fee for issuance and cancellation of Pakistan Origin Card (POC) causing them financial burden.

According to the applicant the overseas Pakistanis are paying $100 to the Nadra for preparation of POC, but it has increased to $150.

The unnecessary increase in fee has discouraged the overseas Pakistanis to get the POC.

During the proceeding, the chief justice asked the NADRA Chairman Usman Yusuf Mobeen that there must have been some mechanism to fix the rate for preparation and cancellation of cards.

He further inquired that whether there was any working paper to determine the prices.

The chief justice observed that $16 were charged from an ordinary citizen for issuance of Executive Smart Cards.

He said that if the Nadra chairman had any justification then it must inform the court in writing.

The chairman told the court that since 2012 the rate for issuance and cancellations of card to overseas Pakistanis had not changed.

He said that the Pakistanis living in Europe had to pay $72 for normal and $83 for the urgent card and for executive card $100 was charged.

The chairman said that those Pakistanis who rescind the Nadra cards apply for POC.

The normal rate of it is $150, while for urgent $200 are charged and $250 are for the Executive Origin Card.

Earlier, Deputy Attorney General Sohail filed a two-page report, on behalf of the Nadra chairman wherein it was stated that the rise in fee has been made gradually over a period of 16 years in accordance with the visa policy on reciprocal basis.

The issuance of POC/NICOP is cheaper as compared to obtaining visa for those overseas Pakistani who surrendered their Pakistani nationality or who have dual nationality.

The report further stated that the price of new chip-based smart ID was comparatively high due to its distinctive features.

The new chip-based NIC is equipped with 36 security features.

It further stated that the card expiry date had also been extended from seven to 10 years, which had given an added three years visa-free entry in Pakistan to the card holder.

The Nadra also launched a website in 2015 through which applicants could apply from their homes instead of visiting the embassy or the NADRA centre, said the report.

The case was adjourned for indefinite period.