ISLAMABAD - The National Database and Registration Authority that falls in the jurisdiction of the interior ministry has silently withdrawn Rs 10 billion damages suit against Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan after paying hefty amount of lawyers’ fee allegedly from the national exchequer.

The registration authority filed a defamation suit in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in 2011 against Chaudhry Nisar on the charge of ‘severely damaging the repute and credibility of the Nadra by accusing it of issuing fake CNICs in his home constituency to manipulate election results in general elections.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was the ruling party at the federal level at that time while Nisar was holding the portfolios of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly.

Interestingly, it took Nadra around more than four years to understand that the damages suit filed against its incumbent boss was of no considerable importance and that it should be withdrawn. Nadra paid a hefty amount of fee in millions to its counsel. The case remained at a dormant stage after Chaudhry Nisar assumed the charge as interior minister.

“The plaintiff (Nadra) has sought permission to withdraw the suit. The instant suit stands dismissed as withdrawn,” Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani of the IHC stated in a final order while disposing of the case on February 1, 2016.

This clearly depicts how things could not be institutionalised in the state institutions for the last more than 60 years and state functionaries were only personality-centric, an opposition party lawmaker said on the condition of anonymity.

Syed Raza Kazim, Nadra’s counsel, refused to divulge any information about the case and said he did not want to commit professional misconduct. “It is my duty not to conceal information about my client, so you can contact the Nadra officials,” he said. A Nadra official, who was not authorised to speak on the issue, confirmed the development, saying the authority was not interested in pursuing the matter. He only said the management had been directed to make arrangements to withdraw the suit against its minister.

The suit was filed on November 14, 2011, after the database authority and Chaudhry Nisar engaged in a series of legal actions against each other.

At the last hearing in the case held on April 18, 2012, Nisar sought time to submit his response to the charges mentioned in the suit. Other respondents mentioned in the suit were the then Punjab chief secretary, the Rawalpindi Civil Lines SHO and 12 others.

The issue arose when Nisar in 2011 accused Nadra of issuing fake CNICs (computerised national identity cards) in his constituency, NA-52, at the behest of a property tycoon. In a legal notice served on Nadra in the same year, he had alleged the exercise was aimed at manipulating the general elections of 2013.

In 2011, an FIR was also registered by the Rawalpindi’s Civil Lines police station after they impounded two official vehicles of Nadra and detained its staff members on the charges that the vans were issuing fake CNICs to the people who do not belong to NA-52. The staff and vehicles were confiscated from the limits of a private housing scheme.

The Nadra got an FIR registered with Koral police station regarding its missing staff detained by the Civil Lines police and confiscation of the vans.

The Nadra stated that mobile registration vans were sent on the request of the said housing scheme and it processed some 3,904 CNIC cases in that specific area as per law.

Some supporters of Chaudhry Nisar also filed another petition with the IHC against Nadra over the same issue

The legal battle continued until the Nadra filed a damages suit of Rs 10 billion against Chaudhry Nisar, saying he had seriously damaged the reputation of the registration body through various false allegations on different occasions without producing any evidence. The clippings of the newspapers carrying statements of Nisar against Nadra were also attached with the suit.

The spokesman for Nadra refused to comment on the issue when The Nation contacted him to get answer its queries. The Interior Ministry’s director media, Sarfraz Hussain, neither responded to the repeated phone calls nor did he reply to the queries sent to him through an SMS.