The Swat district courts ran out of stamp papers 20 days ago, bringing all legal and commercial activities in the district to a halt.
Zeeshan Habib, who recently passed his matriculation exam and is seeking admission to a government college, said, “I have to submit an affidavit, which needs to be written out on a stamp paper for my college applications. The deadline for admissions is getting closer.”
Students are not the only one who need stamp papers. People filling out tenancy papers, land dealings, marriage certificates, birth and death certificates also need stamp papers, said Muhammad Rashed, who sells stamp papers. “The entire district depends upon stamp papers for legal deals.”
He added that people are forced to purchase stamp papers from other districts, which charge them four times the standard rate.
Muhammad Kabir, a judge, told The Express Tribune, “We have been sitting idle in the absence of the stamp papers. Nothing is accepted in courts on ordinary blank papers. Ironically, the treasury department has no stamp papers.”
Even though stamp papers are not available with the District Treasury Department or in the market at regular prices, they are being sold in black market. “After a long struggle, I got a stamp paper worth Rs60 for Rs250 outside the courts. The vendor was not ready to give it to me. I had get it using a reference,” said Iqbal Zameen, who was preparing documents for his newly-bought land acquisition.
An official of the department said that they have placed the demand with the higher authorities and the stamp paper will be supplied to the district courts as soon as they receive them. But that won’t happen before September.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.