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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday heard an unusual case in which a 22-year-old woman sought its directives for removing her father’s name from her official documents and placing her mother’s name there instead.

Tatheer Fatima claimed that her father had abandoned her in her childhood and that she had never seen him.

Terming the case the first of its kind, a three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar that took up the case, however, observed that neither Islamic laws nor laws of the land allowed deletion of a father’s name from a person’s official documents, such as passports.

In her petition, Ms Fatima, who added the words of “Bint-i-Pakistan” to her name and appeared in person before the apex court, said that whenever she took her case to lawyers they started making fun of her. She claimed that she had never seen her father and that her father’s name even in her birth certificate had wrongly been mentioned.

In an unusual case before SC, petitioner says her father abandoned her in her childhood and she has never seen him

Ms Fatima raises an important question in her petition: whether or not an individual who abandons his child either before or after birth can be called the father of that child. She also asks if a child can be entitled to be registered as a citizen of Pakistan without identifying the parents.

The law secretary, the director general of the Immigration and Passport department as well as the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) have been named as respondents in the petition.

The court asked Nadra officials to get information about Ms Fatima’s real father so that he could be called in court.

The petition is basically an appeal against a similar plea which was rejected by the Islamabad High Court on May 17, 2017.

The high court, she pleaded, had failed to appreciate before dismissing her plea that she was not seeking any treatment in accordance with the law — instead a remedy which was above the prevailing laws. The high court should have satisfied itself that there was no remedy available under the law.

Ms Fatima also questioned Nadra’s earlier attempt of seeking a ‘fatwa’ from a religious authority of Saudi Arabia and Iran to formulate a policy about the registration of orphans in Pakistan. She said she did not feel like an orphan in the presence of her mother, Fehmida Butt.

“The use of orphan for me is an insult to my loving mother and to Pakistan,” she contended, highlighting that her status should be determined under the Constitution of Pakistan rather than in the light of customs in Saudi Arabia or Iran.

She said in the petition that she did not accept any other human as equal to her mother or a partner in her upbringing. She said she was seeking protection and not another parent, adding that her mother was enough for her. “Where does the Constitution mention father or husband when the mother is a recognised status of a woman who bears a child but no man is recognised as father of the child unless he discharges the duties as laid down in the Holy Quran.”

She asked how Article 5 of the Constitution, which demands loyalty to the state, would deal with a person who had no sense of loyalty and belonging.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2018