ISLAMABAD : Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar remarked Monday that the courts are friends of the public and government.

The remarks were made during a conversation of the chief justice and Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who appeared in court today after being summoned in a case pertaining to the hike in fees of identity cards for expatriates.

A three-member bench headed by the chief justice was hearing a suo motu case regarding the government charging extra fees for the National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP). The bench also comprises Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah.

During the hearing the chief justice asked Iqbal if he is angry for being summoned. Iqbal responded "where will we go after getting angry," and highlighted the chief justice's suo moto intervention on public issues. He then informed the chief justice of a court stay on an under-construction college that he is building in his hometown of Narowal, Punjab. The chief justice responded that the minister should submit details of the case and assured him of resolution.

Chief Justice Nisar remarked that "you think the courts are your enemies but we are friends of the government and people".

In a social media post after the hearing, the minister said: "Four things belong to a judge; a) to hear courteously (b) to answer wisely (c) to consider soberly (d) & to decide impartially (Socrates)?"

During the hearing, Iqbal assured the apex court that he will get the issue resolved by the federal cabinet during its next session and submit a report in two weeks as per the court's direction. The chief justice remarked that they have to ensure that overseas Pakistanis get voting rights.

Justice Ahsan remarked that the subsidy provided to locals should also be provided to foreign Pakistanis. However, Iqbal explained that overseas Pakistanis earn more and are thus charged accordingly.

Chief Justice Nisar also observed, as he has in earlier cases, the important role that overseas Pakistanis play in boosting the country's economy and their love for the country. The hearing was adjourned for two weeks.