Father’s name not necessary on identification documents, SC told

Published October 24, 2018
22-year-old girl Tatheer Fatima is seeking removal of her father’s name from papers. — Photo/File
22-year-old girl Tatheer Fatima is seeking removal of her father’s name from papers. — Photo/File

ISLAMABAD: Senior counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan on Tuesday suggested it was not necessary to display the name of the father on the identification documents provided such information was available in the official records and databases.

“In the present age, identification documents and databases are computerised and CNICs issued by Nadra [National Database and Registration Authority] contain microchips,” the counsel explained, adding that the passports issued by the DG Passports were also machine-readable.

“Persons are identified through thumb impressions, facial recognition technology and retina scans at all major airports in Pakistan and abroad,” said Mr Khan, who was appointed amicus curiae by the Supreme Court in the unusual case of a 22-year-old girl seeking removal of her father’s name from the parentage column of her passport and identification documents because he abandoned her in childhood.

Court refers matter of a 22-year-old girl seeking removal of her father’s name from papers to interior ministry

In her petition, Tatheer Fatima claimed that her father played no role in her life since her birth and that she was raised by her mother Fehmida Butt as a single parent. She had requested the apex court to order her registration as a citizen of Pakistan without her father’s name appearing in any official record or identification documents. She had also sought a directive for Nadra and the director general of Immigration and Passports to issue the CNIC and passport without her father’s name on them.

A three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, after hearing Makhdoom Ali Khan, referred the matter to the interior ministry for finding a solution to the issue.

At the request of the girl’s mother, the court also restrained Mohammad Shahid Ayub, the father, from issuing any statement to the press in view of the sensitivity of the matter that could cause embarrassment to Tatheer.

Born on Aug 14, 1996, the girl had applied for CNIC on Aug 14, 2014, but the request was turned down by Nadra on the grounds that she did not provide the requisite details such as her father’s name. And since Tatheer’s father had also not included her name in the family tree with Nadra, her name could not be traced in the authority’s database.

The synopsis of the amicus curiae suggested that only the identification forms prescribed under the rules would have to be modified if the requirement to display the father’s name on the documents was to be removed. Otherwise, various amendments to the statutory provisions and rules have to be made to eliminate the requirement of including father’s name in the official documents of a person.

In the United States, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Canada, Kenya, the UAE and many other countries, the name of the father is not displayed on the passports of citizens, the synopsis said, adding that in the UAE, the name of the father was also not displayed on the driving licence.

“There are many examples where identification documents do not display the information collected by the authorities,” the synopsis said, adding that when a person submitted an application for issuance of a visa to the US, a detailed form had to be submitted. The form contains information relating to the applicant’s parents, his/her education, marital status, travel history and even details of the friends or family in the US. While this information is collected, it is not displayed on the visa issued by the US Consulate because as soon as the visa is scanned at the immigration desk, all information provided by the person becomes available to the immigration officer.

“Article 35 of the Constitution imposes a duty on the state to protect the marriage, the family, the mother and the child,” the synopsis said.

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2018

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