ISLAMABAD   -  The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday reserved its verdict in a petition of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F)’s former Senator Maulana Hafiz Hamdullah challenging National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)’s decision to cancel his citizenship. 

A single bench of the IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of a petition filed by the JUI-F leader against the cancellation of his citizenship. 

Expressing his annoyance over NADRA’s conduct in the matter, the IHC Chief Justice asked that did his son not pass out from the Pakistan Military Academy recently. He added that can their citizenship be questioned and how can you revoke his citizenship? 

Justice Athar further said that their properties are also here and Hafiz had remained a member of the Upper House of the Parliament. He maintained that this court would not allow the fundamental rights of citizens to be violated.  Justice Athar also asked from the NADRA counsel that under which law do they question the citizenship of people. At this, the counsel said that action was taken on a report from the security agencies and later, a show-cause notice was also issued under Section 18 of NADRA Ordinance 2000.  Then the IHC bench said that if the registrar of this court sends you something, would you revoke someone’s citizenship. It added that NADRA was misusing its powers.  Earlier, NADRA had informed the IHC that it had only cancelled the identity card of JUI-F leader Hafiz Hamdullah after meeting all legal requirements and revoking a Pakistani’s citizenship did not fall under its domain. 

It said in its written reply that Hafiz Hamdullah’s CNIC was cancelled under Section 18 of the NADRA Ordinance 2000. NADRA further informed the court that the CNIC was cancelled on the basis of reports prepared by security agencies. 

It maintained that neither did it have the record of Hamdullah’s previous identity card, nor any information about his family background. The authority told the court that a security agency in its report issued on December 12, 2018 had declared Hamdullah an Afghan national. Then in another report issued by the agency on October 11 last year, it was stated that the JUI-F leader’s documents were bogus.  On the basis of these reports, NADRA started an investigation into the case. It was found that the Hamdullah was issued a manual identity card in 1992 and then a CNIC in 2004.  In a letter, NADRA said that Hamdullah “is not a citizen of Pakistan.” Therefore, NADRA vide its orders U/S 18(1) & 17(2) has cancelled and digitally impounded the CNIC issued to Hafiz Hamdullah Saboor, the authority said. 

In the petition, Hamdullah’s lawyer questioned the basis of NADRA’s move since the JUI-F leader had contested multiple elections and also served as a senator. Hamdullah has contested elections six times. He remained a member of the Upper House of Pakistan’s Parliament on a JUI-F ticket from March 2012 to March 2018. He had also been health minister in the Balochistan cabinet from 2002 to 2006. 

His counsel Kamran Murtaza Advocate informed the court that his client was born in Balochistan and father of the petitioner holds a CNIC as well as other family members.  He told the IHC bench that the children of the petitioner also hold CNICs and one of them is serving in the Armed Forces of Pakistan. He added that the petitioner was elected as Senator and also as member of the provincial assembly of Balochistan. 

The counsel contended that the NADRA is not vested with jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the citizenship of a citizen which otherwise has to be dealt with under the Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951. Therefore, he argued that the said orders were passed without lawful authority and jurisdiction.