The Supreme Court on Thursday took up a three-year-old application filed by philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi wherein he requested a legal strategy for the registration of children abandoned by their parents. The court also discussed the registration of such children’s guardianship.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, was told that the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) had refused to register a minor, saying the process could not be initiated in the absence of the child’s guardian or if the child is illegitimate.
The bench on Thursday went through the Supreme Appellate Court Gilgit-Baltistan’s March 28, 2011 order regarding adoption in Islam, the rights of adopted children and whether adoption of a Muslim child without the consent of his parents is permissible under the law; whether a Muslim child can be adopted by a non-Muslim and if a judge in special jurisdiction is authorised to grant the guardianship certificate for a Muslim or non-Muslim to take the child out of its territorial jurisdiction; in case of parentless or deserted children, whether a Muslim state is responsible for the child’s welfare and if permission is required for the adoption of such a child by any state of authority; and finally, the aims and objectives of the Welfare Organisation and if such an organisation can grant custody of a child to Muslim or non-Muslim nationals or non-nationals.
The court sought the opinions of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and Justice (Retd) Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday. Justice (retd) Ramday suggested implementing the 1955 Act regarding the matter. The CII suggested that space should be included in NICs to name guardians.
The bench appointed Tariq Mehmood and Makhdoom Ali Khan as amicus curiae and said that there is a need for ‘Ijtehad’ on these issues. The hearing is adjourned until next month.
According to NADRA, a fatwa has been sought from religious scholars in Iran and Saudi Arabia and the case has been referred to the CII. The CII stated, “Any name may be mentioned in parentage. If the guardian’s name is known then name of guardian may be written.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2014.