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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has declared that the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) is not vested with the power and jurisdiction to, directly or indirectly, adjudicate upon or interfere with intricate contested family disputes, including paternity.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Friday passed verdict against the Nadra’s decision of impounding Urooj Tabani’s CNIC and excluding her from the family tree.

The same IHC bench on 11-10-2019 as an interim relief had directed the authority to unblock the CNIC of the petitioner.

The court declared the impugned orders and proceedings of the Nadra as illegal, void, without lawful authority, and jurisdiction.

Justice Minallah declared, “The Authority is not vested with the power and jurisdiction to, directly or indirectly, adjudicate upon or interfere with intricate contested family disputes, including paternity. In such eventualities a change in the particulars incorporated in a card issued under the Ordinance of 2000 shall be subject to a declaration by a competent court.”

He added, “The CNIC of the petitioner shall be restored and the change of paternity shall be subject to a declaration by a competent civil court. By disputing the paternity of the Petitioner, the latter must have been exposed to unimaginable pain, agony and emotional distress as well as psychological trauma.”

Urooj Tabani has filed a petition challenging the jurisdiction of the Nadra to impound her CNIC by purportedly adjudicating upon the question of her paternity.

She stated that the NADRA, instead of complying with this court’s order, issued a fresh CNIC showing some other person as the petitioner’s father.

However, realising that this court had not passed such an order, the authority unblocked and restored her original CNIC.

The counsel for the petitioner contended that the Authority has acted malafidely and without jurisdiction, the Authority is bereft of adjudicating the paternity of the petitioner, the Authority is not empowered to adjudicate disputed and contentious questions requiring recording of evidence, the Authority had no locus standi to seek review of the order passed by the learned Ombudsman, Respondent No 3 i.e. Muhammad Yaqoob Tabani (father of Urooj), had never challenged those public and other documents relating to the petitioner wherein his name was recorded as the latter’s father, the domicile certificate and the educational certificates issued by the competent forums are public documents and a presumption of truth is attached thereto.

He argued that the Authority could not have changed the paternity of the petitioner unless there had been a declaration to this effect by a competent court and adjudication of contentious and disputed questions of fact is outside the scope of the power and jurisdiction vested in the Authority.

The counsel for Yaqoob Tabani placed reliance on the decree in the suit for jactitation of marriage and reliance has also been placed on copies of documents to establish that the paternity recorded therein was different.

He argued that the Authority had rightly impounded the CNIC and changed the family tree by excluding the name of the petitioner.

The IHC bench observed in the verdict that the petitioner had unequivocally stated that she was prepared to take a DNA test so that the question of paternity is decisively settled. Similarly, the counsel for Yaqoob was asked that whether the latter was willing to accept the suggestion made by the petitioner.

The counsel had sought time and on the next date of hearing Yaqoob did not consent to undergo the DNA test.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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