Despite Supreme Court's summons, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal did not appear for the hearing of a case regarding overseas Pakistanis being charged an extra amount as an issuance fee for Pakistan Origin Cards (POC).

National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Chairman Usman Mobeen told the court that the interior minister had gone on a visit to Gwadar for two days.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had also ordered the interior secretary to appear before the court but he did not appear either.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Nisar was hearing a suo motu case initiated last year after a non-resident Pakistani complained that the issuance fee for a POC had increased to Rs22,000, and the cancellation fee to Rs31,500.

The hearing of the case was adjourned until March 26 on Mobeen's request.

In an earlier hearing, the CJP had remarked that overseas Pakistanis must receive special consideration from the Nadra in light of their "commendable services" to the country.

The Nadra chairman earlier made a distinction in court between the National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (Nicop) and the POC, saying that the former is for people who live in foreign countries for employment purposes but have kept their Pakistani nationality while the latter is for people living in foreign countries who have given up their Pakistani nationality or for foreigners who have blood relatives who are or were Pakistani nationals.

Nadra had claimed before the court that the price of the new chip-based smart identification card was comparatively high due to its distinctive features.

It said the chip-based POC was equipped with 36 security features (overt and covert) intended to preserve a citizen’s identity more efficiently by preventing all types of forgery.

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