ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court initially on Wednesday first ordered bailable arrest warrants against NADRA’s chairman for failing to appear in a case. But hours later, the court recalled the order when he offered to appear before the court.
While hearing a case on introducing biometric systems, closed-circuit television cameras and computerisation of revenue records in different government offices, Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi issued arrest warrants for the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) chairman after no one appeared on his behalf on Wednesday.
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The IHC Bar Association, through its former secretary general Waqas Malik, had approached the IHC in December 2016 seeking court’s help in computerising revenue records of the Islamabad Capital Territory, introducing biometric systems and CCTV cameras for the moment when built-up properties, land and vehicles are transferred and registration of FIR and verifications.
The petitioner had prayed that NADRA may be directed to provide these facilities, excluding commercial packages, on cost-to-cost basis. Malik had named the secretary of Interior Ministry, Islamabad’s chief commissioner, NADRA chairman, Inspector General of Police and excise and taxation officer as respondents in the case.
The court on February 16 had directed NADRA officials to appear on March 1.
When the case was taken up on Wednesday, the court noted that no one from the authority had turned up.
“No option remains with the court except to compel the chairman of NADRA to appear through coercive measures, therefore, bailable warrants of arrest amounting to Rs20,000 be issued for his appearance for March 3,” Justice Qureshi’s order read.
The court also directed the advocate general of Islamabad to appear during the next hearing of the case along with any responsible officer of the Ministry of Interior.
But a few hours later NADRA Law Officer Inayat Ali appeared before the court and submitted a request. Ali contended that since the district administration had declared Wednesday as a local holiday on account of the 13th Economic Cooperation Organisation summit in the capital, the NADRA chairman was of the view that courts too were closed.
However, upon learning that the courts were open and warrants had been issued, Ali said the chairman called him and offered to appear before the court.
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Considering this, “order for issuance of bailable warrant of the chairman is hereby recalled on assurance rendered by the law officer for procuring attendance of any responsible officer on the next date,” the order stated.
Following the hearing, the court decided to take up the matter again on March 3.
Owing to the summit, the ICT administration had declared a half-day local holiday on Tuesday and a full day holiday on Wednesday. Several roads in the capital were also blocked for security reasons. As a result a number of litigants and lawyers could not make it to the court on Wednesday, leading to adjournments in many cases.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2017.