IHC reserves judgement in Hamdullah citizenship case

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday reserved itsjudgement on a petition filed against the National Database and Registration Authority’s (Nadra) notification of revoking the citizenship of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Hafiz Hamdullah.

Nadra in its written reply referred to intelligence reports claiming that Mr Hamdullah is not a Pakistani national.

On Oct 11 last year, Mr Hamdullah lost his citizenship when Nadra declared him an ‘alien’.

Hamdullah

Subsequently, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) banned his appearance on TV channels.

As per the Oct 26 Pemra directive, Nadra had in a letter dated Oct 11 conveyed that “Hafiz Hamdullah Saboor is ‘confirmed alien’ as he is not a citizen of Pakistan”.

It further said Nadra had “cancelled and digitally impounded” the CNIC [computerised national identity card] issued to Mr Hamdullah.“Since it is established that the said person is an ‘alien’, all the TV channels (news and current affairs) are directed to refrain from inviting and projecting Mr Hafiz Hamdullah Saboor in their programmes/talk shows, news, etc,” the authority said in its letter.

Nadra took the stance before the IHC that the intelligence agencies claimed that Mr Hamdullah’s credentials were also fake and subsequently his computerised national identity card had been cancelled.

Mr Hamdullah, who was a senator from Balochistan between March 2012 and March 2018, frequently makes appearances in evening talk shows on different news channels. The directive banning his TV appearances came at a time when the JUI-F’s Azadi March was about to start.

Advocate Kamran Murtaza, who filed a petition on behalf of Mr Hamdullah, informed the court that the petitioner was born in the province of Balochistan and that his father, children and other family members also held CNICs. One of Mr Hamdullah’s children is serving in the armed forces of the country as a commissioned officer.

According to the petition, Mr Hamdullah has also remained member of the Balochistan Assembly and “Nadra is not vested with jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the citizenship of citizen which otherwise has to be dealt with the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951. It shows that Nadra’s order was issued without any lawful authority,” the petition said.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, after hearing the arguments of petitioner’s counsel and other respondents, reserved the judgement.