ISLAMABAD: The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has issued legal notice to its former deputy chairman Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah for levelling ‘false, fabricated, misconceived’ allegations against the authority with regard to leaking voters data to a particular political party.
The authority has asked the former official to pay for general damages of up to Rs1 billion in 14 days for defaming the authority.
“Failing to comply with the forgoing, legal proceedings both civil and criminal will be taken in the courts and other competent forums,” said the legal notice served to Ali on Saturday through Kundi & Kundi Advocates Legal Consultants.
Talking to a private TV channel on June 13, NADRA former deputy chairman levelled serious allegations against the authority with regard to leakage of voters’ data in a bid to change outcomes of upcoming general elections to the detriment or benefit of a particular political party.
Addressing a press conference on the same day, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry had urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take notice of leakage of sensitive information from NADRA and to remove the authority’s chairman.
“The ECP must investigate role of the son of Brigadier Siddique [a close aide of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Ahsan Iqbal] in this regard. It is the responsibility of the ECP to unveil the critical nexus between the previous government and heads of some government institutions,” he had said.
Later on June 19, the ECP in a letter to NADRA cited ‘some news reports’ which mentioned information on age and gender in electoral rolls and expressed its suspicion that NADRA had leaked the voters’ data.
A day after receiving the ECP’s letter, NADRA officials held a press conference and categorically rejected sharing any data in any shape with any political party or any irrelevant individual. They said former deputy chairman was levelling baseless allegations and presenting proof which, they said, had no worth.
However, on Saturday NADRA served Shah the legal notice which said he wrongly portrayed on the channel that he had been victimised and dismissed from the services because he was as an obstacle in implementation of the ‘alleged grand scheme’ of electoral malpractices.
The former deputy chairman had also claimed that NADRA deliberately concealed dual nationality of some of its officers from the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a pending case. Terming this allegation false and fabricated, NADRA asked Ali to provide proof for his claim.
Responding to another accusation, the authority said registration of deaths is a provisional subject and a function which is carried out by respective union councils and not by NADRA.
“Our client (NADRA) nonetheless in arrangements with the Union Councils keeps updating its database on the deaths reported to the respective UCs. Responding a death is a need based voluntary act on the part of the family or next-of-kin of the deceased,” the legal notice said.
It said NADRA is vested with a limited designated role in electoral process that is governed by law and has always been efficiently and effectively played by it under the watchful eye of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to best of its ability deeming it a national duty.
“NADRA prepared and handed over the electoral rolls as per requirements of the ECP which invariably include all registered/enrolled overseas Pakistanis eligible to vote.
“In fact overseas Pakistanis were also included in the electoral rolls prepared by our client (NADRA) in 2013 when you were yourself in-charge of the said operation within the organisation.
“It is shamelessly self-contradictory on your part that you are now making/supporting even a suggestion of foul play on NADRA’s part in the inclusion of overseas Pakistan in the electoral rolls being eligible voters, which inclusion is mandatory as per law,” the legal notice further said.
According to the notice, the solution for voting by overseas Pakistanis was proposed early on in December 2016 to the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms while former deputy chairman was still serving with it.
Responding to Ali’s allegations with regard to his termination from his services, the notice said Ali was dismissed on the charges of serious misconduct including misuse of official position/authority and insubordination and it was a finding of the inquiry committee constituted to probe the matter.
It further stated that his dismissal from service is a sub judice matter because he himself had taken it to the Islamabad High Court. “The aforementioned wrongful acts have exposed NADRA to public contempt, ridicule, unjust criticism and maligned the good name of it,” it added.