Ex-Nadra chief didn’t hide dual nationality, says verdict

Updated September 16, 2019

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Former chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Tariq Malik has been cleared in a case filed on behalf of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan against him on charges of hiding his dual nationality. — Photo by Bilal Karim Mughal/File
Former chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Tariq Malik has been cleared in a case filed on behalf of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan against him on charges of hiding his dual nationality. — Photo by Bilal Karim Mughal/File

ISLAMABAD: Former chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Tariq Malik has been cleared in a case filed on behalf of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan against him on charges of hiding his dual nationality.

Judicial Magistrate Shaista Khan Kundi of Islamabad’s model trial court while disposing of the case ordered cancellation of FIR (No. 53) registered against Mr Malik on May 12, 2014, according to a copy of the judgement obtained by Dawn.

Tariq Malik, who served Nadra for six years from 2008 to 2014 in different capacities, including its director general, deputy chairman and chairman, expressed satisfaction over the court’s decision, saying he had gone through a difficult time and immense mental stress during the course of the investigation and trial.

“I have been vindicated once again but the process of obtaining justice is a punishment in Pakistan. Why is there no punishment for the complainant who framed frivolous and false charges, which are proven wrong in court of law?” he asked.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Malik said the case should have been closed after a senior sessions judge had passed judgement in his favour in February this year.

Case was filed on behalf of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan

Mr Malik, who is currently working as chief technical adviser of the United Nations Development Programme, had challenged the FIR filed in his absentia and appeared in the court of Senior Sessions Judge Sohail Nasir, who had shown his anger in his judgement and said: “I am also astonished to see why the investigation in this case is still going on when the government of Pakistan, director general passport vide its letter dated 19.11.2018 made it clear that prima facie no passport-related offence has been found committed by the petitioner.”

Advocate Qausain Mufti, representing the former Nadra chairman, argued that the false and frivolous allegations were hurriedly framed as a counterblast by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government when it lost its case against his client in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Mr Malik resigned in January 2014 from the position of Nadra chairman amid alleged security threats to him and his family at a time when he was helping superior courts and election tribunals investigate alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections.

In the case, Mr Malik was accused of dishonestly concealing his Canadian nationality and wrongly mentioning his profession as a private employee whereas at the time he was holding a public office in Nadra.

Judge Shaista Kundi in her judgement said: “I am unable to understand that what offence is made out in the given circumstances? Investigation officer is not in a position to answer successfully that if the petitioner did not disclose the facts rightly then what damage he caused to anybody and how section 6(1)(A)(E) of the Passport Act is made out? At the most, petitioner could be proceeded under the relevant rules on the charge of misconduct by the authority or his passport could be cancelled due to suppression of facts or providing incorrect information.”

The petitioner said at the time of filling online the declaration forms for obtaining both the passports in question, he had provided every piece of information which the DEO had asked him but the DEO did not ask for the other nationality and resultantly this procedural lapse happened and there was no mala fide intention on his side.

The data entry operator concerned, Wazir Satti, also joined the investigation and recorded his statement.

Mr Malik claimed that not only the NICOP (National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis) by itself was an evidence of his intention of not concealing his foreign nationality but the address of other country was clearly mentioned on the said card.

“In the light of above facts and circumstances, I agree with the contention of the investigation officer that the cancellation report under alleged sections is valid and same is hereby allowed,” the judge said.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2019