The Supreme Court has directed the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to close its office situated in the jurisdiction of Bahria Town, Rawalpindi.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary while hearing a suo motu case on the registration of bogus identity cards at the behest of Bahria Town developer, Malik Riaz, directed NADRA to close all its offices situated on the premises of Bahria Town or adjacent areas. The chief justice remarked that it was against the prestige of a national institution to indulge in malpractice. During the course of hearing, the applicant, Muhammad Hashmi, informed the court that Malik Riaz had asked his employees who number 20,000 to get new identity cards with Bahria Town addresses. He said this amounted to a manipulation of the vote bank which was a negation of the fundamental rights of voters of NA 52, Rawalpindi. The applicant apprised the court that so far 4,100 identity cards have been issued to Bahria Town workers.
NADRA’s counsel Raza Kazim submitted that NADRA was mandated to collect citizens’ data. He pleaded for some time to go through the applicant’s reply. Further hearing was adjourned for three weeks.
It is pertinent to mention that two factions of the Pakistan Muslim League are involved in a bitter fight for securing the vote bank in NA-52. A petition was moved in the apex court against the issuance of illegal computerised national identity cards (CNICs) for Bahria Town employees in Rawalpindi. Hashmi maintained that the Bahria Town administration is trying to register some 21,000 employees along with their families as voters in NA-52. The majority of people living in NA-52 are settlers. Votes can only be cast in the constituency defined on the basis of permanent addresses on CNICs. The drive was an attempt to make settlers permanent residents.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2011.