ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has said the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) should learn how to define corporate entities and defend litigations, regretting that it seems the organisation is even unaware of its own law.

“Section 3(2) of the National Database and Registration Auth­ority Ordinance 2000 stipulates that the authority is a corporate body and has to sue in its own name through an authorised person,” observed Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa while heading a three-judge SC bench also consisting of Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan and Justice Athar Minallah.

The CJP made the observation while deciding a petition filed aga­­inst the Peshawar High Cou­rt’s (PHC) Sept 23, 2020 judgement.

It seems the statutory body has no knowledge of its own law, regrets CJP

The petition before the Supreme Court was moved by the regional manager, Nadra RHO, Hayatabad, Peshawar, and director general, project directorate, Nadra headquarters, Islamabad, when both were not authorised to file this plea, regretted the judgement authored by CJP, adding that it appeared as if the statutory corporate body did not read its own law.

“Mentioning an acronym in the title of the petition also does not conform to how a party is to be described in the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 (CPC),” the order said, adding that Nadra should learn how corporate entities were to be defined and to read the ordinance and to learn who can initiate and defend litigation.

Senior counsel Afnan Karim Kundi, representing Nadra, argued that the writ petition, which was filed by the respondents (two individuals) in the PHC, had arrayed the authority and copied the title there from.

But the judgment said if the respondents had not arrayed the authority, this objection should have been taken before the high court and not to perpetuate the mistake before the Supreme Court.

The counsel, during the hearing, recalled how the office of the apex court had raised objections when parties were not described exactly as they were before the high court. But the counsel did not refer to any objection in this regard nor to an order of the apex court, reminded the judgement, adding that it appeared that the ability to accept one’s mistake was a quality in recession.

“Litigation has to be conducted in accordance with the law,” CJP Isa observed, adding that the petitioners did not comply with the ordinance nor with the CPC regarding the provisions stipulating the mode and manner of describing parties.

Referring to the case, the judgement observed, the counsel had submitted that the Pakistan Origin Card (POC) was granted under section 11 of the ordinance and in accordance with the National Database and Registration Authority (Pakistan Origin Card) Rules, 2002.

The writ petition before the high court had directed the authority to issue POC to the respondent which the counsel stated had now been issued. Therefore, the grievance of the respondents stands redressed.

“It is unfortunate that the authority rather than doing its job in the first instance compelled the respondents to file a writ petition,” the judgement said, adding that the decision of the high court was challenged before the Supreme Court, when certain questions were raised and only then better sense prevailed and the authority issued POC to the respondent.

Nadra is a statutory organisation and should have abided by its own law, and not to have generated unnecessary litigation, regretted the judgement, adding that the only concern of the counsel was that the high court verdict did not refer to section 11 of the ordinance and the rules.

Had proper assistance been provided to the PHC, the judgement observed, the high court would have attended to this aspect too.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2023

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