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Times change for Nisar-Nadra court tussle

June 08, 2013

ISLAMABAD, June 7: Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan could be facing a testing case from a subordinate department when he assumes the powerful post of Minister of Interior.

Or maybe not, if the Rs10 billion damages suit filed by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) against him in 2011 is withdrawn or remains pending in the Islamabad High Court.

Nadra’s claim for the damages was last heard on April 18, 2012.

At the hearing Chaudhry Nisar requested the court to grant him time to submit a reply to the charge that he harmed Nadra by alleging that it had been issuing, at the behest of real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, bogus CNICs - the national identity cards - in the PML-N leader’s NA-52 constituency in order to manipulate the faraway 2013 general elections.

Since then the case, for unknown reasons, has not been fixed for hearing.

Other respondents cited in the damage suit were the Punjab chief secretary, Civil Lines SHO and 12 other persons.

When contacted on Friday, the current chairman of Nadra, Tariq Malik, said he was unaware of the damages suit and that the former chairman Nadra Ali Arshad Hakeem might have filed the suit.

“Nadra can withdraw the suit in case it is still alive because Chaudhry Nisar is a respectable politician and now he has also become the federal minister,” he added.

The background of the case is that Chaudhry Nisar, then leader of opposition and chairman Public Accounts Committee, alleged that Nadra was working under the influence of the property tycoon.

Nadra’s counsel attached a number of statements of Chaudhry Nisar against the authority which were published in different newspapers.

In its petition Nadra accused Chaudhry Nisar of defaming a “noble and vital department” of the interior ministry and claimed Rs10 billion in damages.

It contended that on the formal request of the management of Bahria Town, Nadra on February 14, 2011 deployed mobile registration vans (MRV) near Rawat to issue CNICs to the employees and residents of Bahria Town.

The petition said MRV issued 2,014 registration forms, while a semi mobile unit (SMU) in the same area processed nearly 4,000 cases.

In the meantime, the petition said, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan served a legal notice on Nadra alleging that the deployment of registration facilities were meant to issue fake CNICs to non-residents within his constituency (NA-52 Rawalpindi/Kallar Syedan) at the behest of a property tycoon to manipulate the next general elections.

On March 8, 2011 the police officials of Civil Lines Rawalpindi booked Nadra staff and impounded the MRV No GA-777 for allegedly issuing fake CNICs.

The same day Nadra deputy manager also lodged an FIR for recovery of its missing staff and the MRV in Koral police station, Islamabad. Nadra also wrote a letter to the ministry of interior and requested to probe the matter.

The petition stated that the MRV was still in the custody of Civil Lines police and Nadra could not retrieve it despite the fact that it had fulfilled the legal requirements.

The petition alleged that Chaudhry Nisar was in the habit of accusing Nadra of issuing fake CNICs to the employees of Bahria Town which “caused an irreparable loss” to the reputation of the registration authority and cost it millions of dollars in lost international contracts.

Interestingly, the petition filed earlier by the supporters of Chaudhry Nisar in the Islamabad High Court against Nadra issuing CNICs to the employees of Bahria Town is also pending before the same judge.

The petitioners, Ajab Hussain, Ali Asghar, Baber Bhatti and Abdul Quddoos, alleged that Nadra issued the CNICs to hundreds of people hailing from different regions of Pakistan to defeat a popular figure of the constituency in the next general elections.