CNIC Blocked in PakistanCNIC Blocked in Pakistan

Update: A lot of queries have come up, asking about the power of court to block CNIC in a civil matter.This power comes from an amended first schedule of the Civil Procedure Code 1908.According to the amended Order 21 Rule 117 CPC which states , “the modes of compelling the judgement debtor for his attendance or for completing the execution proceedings may include blockage of his Computerized National Identity Card’.

A lot of successful and unsuccessful litigation has ensued, and in the majority of cases CNICs were unblocked via constitutional petitions to high court as we will see later below.The most recent court affirms the position that such blocking in Civil proceedings is an infringement of constitutional rights.This is demonstrated by P L D 2022 Lahore 756 as discussed below:

Case Note on P L D 2022 Lahore 756

Relevant Provisions:

  • National Database and Registration Authority Ordinance (VIII of 2000): Section 18
  • Constitution of Pakistan: Articles 199 & 175
  • Other relevant laws and concepts: Right to identity, Security of person, Inviolability of dignity of man, Fundamental rights

Facts of the Case:

The petitioner challenged an order passed by the Executing Court, which directed the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to block his Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC). The order was issued during the execution of a decree for recovery of dower against the petitioner in a family court case.

Legal Issues:

  1. Whether the Executing Court had the jurisdiction to order the blocking of the petitioner’s CNIC.
  2. The applicability of Section 18 of the National Database and Registration Authority Ordinance, 2000 in the context of blocking/digital impounding of CNIC.
  3. The impact of such an order on the fundamental rights of a person.

Court’s Analysis:

  1. Right to Identity: The Court recognized the right to identity as integral to the right to life and human dignity, as protected under Articles 9 and 14 of the Constitution. The Court referenced international law and treaties that protect the right to identity.
  2. Role and Significance of CNIC: The CNIC was deemed essential for the enjoyment of numerous fundamental rights. The inability to have a CNIC impacts a person’s daily life significantly, affecting various civic and social functions.
  3. Section 18 of the NADRA Ordinance: The Court scrutinized Section 18, which outlines the Federal Government’s power to cancel, impound, or confiscate CNICs. It was determined that such actions require specific circumstances, as enumerated in the Ordinance, and must be preceded by a show cause notice.
  4. Jurisdiction of the Executing Court: The Court found that the Executing Court exceeded its jurisdiction and acted contrary to the principles of law by ordering the blocking of the CNIC without adhering to the stipulations of Section 18.

The Court held that the order to block the petitioner’s CNIC was without legal authority, as it was not in compliance with the procedures and requirements set out in Section 18 of the NADRA Ordinance. The action was also deemed a violation of the petitioner’s fundamental rights.

The petition was accepted, and the impugned order dated 04.06.2021 was declared to be without legal authority and set aside. This judgment highlights the importance of adhering to legal procedures and requirements when dealing with matters that significantly impact fundamental rights. It underscores the critical role of CNIC in a person’s life and the legal limitations on the authorities’ power to restrict or impound it. The decision reinforces the principle that actions impacting fundamental rights must be grounded in law and due process.

However the position in criminal proceedings where the person is an absconder favours the idea of courts blocking the CNIC of the accused as per the case below:

2019 P Cr. L J 126, Sindh (Larkana Bench)

Relevant Provisions:

  • Criminal Procedure Code (V of 1898): Sections 87 & 88
  • Constitution of Pakistan: Article 199

Facts of the Case:

The petitioner sought direction for the arrest of accused persons nominated in FIR Crime No.09/2015 at Police Station Madeji against unknown persons. The accused were declared absconders, and the petitioner expressed concern about their non-arrest. The police assured that efforts were being made to arrest the absconders.

Legal Issues:

  1. Whether the trial court effectively issued proclamations under Section 87 of the Criminal Procedure Code against the absconders.
  2. The extent to which the trial court can exert control over the financial resources of the absconders, including blocking of CNIC, to compel their appearance.

Court’s Analysis:

  1. Proclamation and Abscondance: The Court emphasized that action against an accused cannot be taken unless a proper proclamation under Section 87 of the Criminal Procedure Code is issued. The purpose of such a proclamation is to compel the accused to appear before the court for trial.
  2. Blocking of CNIC: The Court noted that blocking or digitally impounding the CNIC (Computerized National Identity Card) of an absconding accused is a viable strategy. Such action renders the person unable to engage in banking transactions, obtain a passport, and face other routine hardships. The trial court was recognized as having the authority to order such actions, particularly under Section 88(4)(g) of the Criminal Procedure Code, to restrict the financial resources of the absconder.
  3. Restoration of Financial Resources: The Court advised that if an absconding accused appears before the trial court, offers a reasonable explanation, and assures their participation in the trial, the court should promptly restore their financial resources, including salary and bank accounts.
  4. Duty of the Trial Court and Police: The Court emphasized the responsibility of both the trial court and the police in ensuring the appearance of absconding accused. The police were directed to increase their efforts in arresting the nominated accused.

Conclusion:

The petition was disposed of, with directions to the concerned Station House Officer to intensify efforts for the arrest of the accused and the trial court to take necessary actions as per the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Order:

The petition was disposed of with no order as to cost. The order was to be sent to the trial court and the SHO concerned for compliance.

Significance:

This decision highlights the proactive measures that can be taken by judicial authorities to compel the appearance of absconding accused in criminal trials. It underscores the legal provisions available for restricting the financial resources of absconders, including the innovative measure of blocking CNIC, to ensure their compliance with court proceedings.

Main Article continues below

In the legal landscape of Pakistan, the blocking of Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) has been a subject of considerable debate and judicial scrutiny. Various cases have been brought before the courts, each adding a layer of complexity to the existing jurisprudence on the matter. The legal principles emerging from the cited cases can be analysed under several key themes.

Right to Due Process

One of the recurring principles is the right to due process. The National Database and Registration Authority Ordinance, 2000 (NADRA Ordinance) stipulates the conditions under which a CNIC may be cancelled, impounded, or confiscated. The courts have consistently held that any action taken without adhering to these conditions would be void. For example, in PLJ 2022 Lahore 803, the court explicitly stated that a CNIC is essential for the enjoyment of numerous fundamental rights and a person cannot be deprived of it without due process of law.

Limited Scope of Authority

The courts have also clarified the limited scope of NADRA’s authority in blocking CNICs. In 2021 PLD 492, the Karachi High Court elaborated that NADRA does not possess the power to block a CNIC unless it has been finally determined that the card should be cancelled, impounded, or confiscated. This underscores the principle that the authority’s actions must strictly adhere to the legislative framework.

Impact on Fundamental Rights

Several cases have emphasised the impact of blocking a CNIC on an individual’s fundamental rights. For example, blocking a CNIC can cripple an individual’s ability to engage in financial transactions, obtain a passport, and even affect daily routines. This was highlighted in 2022 PLD 756, where the court noted that the trial court could issue directions to NADRA for digitally impounding or blocking the CNIC, thereby effectively strangulating the individual’s financial resources.

Jurisdictional Issues

The issue of jurisdiction has also been prominently featured. The courts have clarified that orders for blocking CNICs cannot be passed without considering the relevant sections of the NADRA Ordinance. For instance, in 2017 PLD 585, the Karachi High Court laid down the procedure that NADRA must follow before impounding a person’s CNIC, thereby indicating that such powers must be exercised judiciously and within the bounds of the law.

Procedural Safeguards

Lastly, procedural safeguards have been stressed in multiple judgments. For example, in 2018 MLD 1748, the High Court directed the authorities to de-block the CNICs and passports of the petitioner and his family members, emphasising the necessity of a thorough investigation or inquiry before taking such drastic measures.

In conclusion, the cited cases collectively assert the necessity for safeguarding individual rights and adhering to legal procedures when considering the blocking of CNICs. The courts have been cautious in ensuring that the law is not misused to impinge on the fundamental rights of citizens, and have outlined clear limitations on the powers of administrative authorities like NADRA.

Where the CNIC of an Absconder is involved :

The case 2019 P Cr. L J 126 outlines the legal procedures and responsibilities surrounding the issue of absconding accused persons, specifically with regard to the Pakistani legal system. Sections 87 and 88 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) are central to the discussion. Section 87 pertains to the issuance of a proclamation against an accused person who is absconding, while Section 88 deals with the attachment of property of such a person.

The case highlights that before taking any action against an absconding accused, such as blocking their Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC), a proper proclamation under Section 87 must be issued. Once this is done, Section 88 provides the Court with various mechanisms to force the accused to appear before the Court, including the option to block their financial resources. This can involve freezing bank accounts or stopping salaries, and as mentioned, even extending to the blocking of their CNIC.

Blocking the CNIC has significant implications, as it virtually cripples the individual’s ability to perform everyday transactions, including accessing bank accounts or obtaining a passport. This serves as a strong incentive for the accused to appear before the Court.

However, the judgment also emphasises that if the accused does appear before the Court and provides satisfactory explanations and assurances, the Court should not be slow in restoring their financial resources. This ensures a balanced approach where the rights of the accused are also considered.

The role of the police is highlighted as crucial in diligently working to arrest the absconders, and the Court may issue specific directions to speed up these efforts.

In summary, the case sets forth a comprehensive legal framework for dealing with absconding accused persons, balancing both the need for effective law enforcement and the protection of individual rights. It clarifies how and when CNIC blocking can occur within this framework and serves as a guide for both law enforcement agencies and the judiciary.The case also underscores the need for proper procedural adherence. Any actions taken against an absconding accused must be in line with the law’s spirit, ensuring that the Court’s orders under Sections 87 and 88 are passed distinctively and as required by law. This avoids any ambiguity or misinterpretation that could compromise the accused’s rights or the efficacy of the legal proceedings.

Furthermore, the judgment calls attention to the alarming number of absconders, which runs into the thousands, as reported by the DIGP, Larkana Range. This statistic raises questions about the effectiveness of the current system and emphasises the need for the immediate attention of all stakeholders in the Criminal Justice System. The case cites Police Rules and procedures for maintaining a ‘Register of Absconders,’ highlighting the necessity for regular reviews to ensure that only genuine absconders are included in the list and that efforts to arrest them are properly monitored.

The case also serves as a reminder that the law provides sufficient powers to the trial Court to force an absconder to join legal proceedings. Therefore, if an accused person is still at large, it signifies a failure on part of both the police in arresting the individual and the Court in not effectively utilising its available powers. This notion is particularly relevant to the petitioner, who is anxious that the accused named in his FIR are neither arrested by the police nor have they surrendered themselves before the Court.

In conclusion, this case offers a detailed exposition of the legal avenues available for dealing with absconding accused persons, including the blocking of CNICs. It emphasises the need for a balanced approach that respects individual rights while also ensuring effective law enforcement. It also serves as a call to action for all involved in the Criminal Justice System, urging them to be more effective and diligent in their duties to arrest absconders and compel their appearance before the Court.

This case presents a multi-faceted approach to a complex issue, providing valuable guidelines for both law enforcement and the judiciary. It reaffirms the importance of adhering to procedural norms while navigating the challenges presented by absconding accused persons.

The Legal Labyrinth Surrounding CNIC Blockage and Restoration in Criminal and Family Cases

The law provides a complex framework to tackle individuals evading legal responsibilities, especially in the realms of criminal and family law. A notable instrument within this framework is the National Identity Card (CNIC), issued by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). The blockage and subsequent restoration of a CNIC can significantly impact a person’s life, affecting their ability to carry out financial transactions, among other things. This blog post delves into the intricacies surrounding the blockage and restoration of CNICs, as elucidated in various legal precedents, including the case citation PLJ 2022 Lahore 803, and the legal provisions under the Family Courts Act, 1964, and the National Database and Registration Authority Ordinance, 2000.

In criminal proceedings, if an accused individual is attempting to evade the law, they can have their CNIC number blocked. However, upon presenting themselves before the court and providing clarifications, they can have their CNIC restored. The aim behind such a provision is to restrain the financial activities of the accused, thereby compelling them to face the legal proceedings. Section 88 of the Code empowers the trial Court to prohibit payment of rent or delivery of property to the proclaimed offender or anyone on their behalf. The trial Court may direct NADRA to digitally impound or block the CNIC of an absconding accused, subsequently strangulating their financial resources and pressurizing them to surrender before the law. Such actions are reinforced by the judgment in 2019PCrLJ126, which elaborates on the process and the implications of blocking a CNIC, illustrating the financial stranglehold it places on the accused.

On the other hand, in family cases, particularly during the execution of a decree of dower, the blockage of a CNIC is not permitted to compel the debtor’s presence or to force the debtor into paying the decretal amount. According to the case PLJ 2022 Lahore 803, the Family Courts Act, 1964, in conjunction with sections 10, 11, 12, 18(2), 19 of the National Database and Registration Authority Ordinance, 2000, and Article 175 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, outlines the circumstances under which a CNIC can or cannot be blocked. The law stipulates that a CNIC is essential for the enjoyment of several fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and a person cannot be deprived of it without due process. Moreover, the CNIC, being the property of the Federal Government, can only be cancelled, impounded, or confiscated by an order after providing a show cause notice to the holder.

In family law, particularly during the execution phase, the debtor can be caught, and a surety can be provided that if the debtor does not pay, the surety will pay. This scenario, as explained in the citation 2020 CLC 970, highlights that the surety becomes bound to the execution in such cases. The liability of the surety is coextensive with that of the principal judgment debtor unless otherwise provided by the contract. Even the arrest of the judgment debtor does not absolve the surety from making the payment of the decretal amount, and their liability remains joint and several with the judgment debtor.

This dichotomy between criminal and family law regarding CNIC blockage and restoration reflects the nuanced approach of the legal system in dealing with different categories of legal disputes. While the blockage of a CNIC serves as a compelling tool to bring accused individuals before the law in criminal cases, its application is restricted in family cases to uphold the principle of due process and to ensure that the rights of individuals are not infringed upon arbitrarily. Through these legal provisions and case precedents, the law strikes a delicate balance between ensuring justice and safeguarding the fundamental rights of individuals.

HIGH COURT OF SINDH AT KARACHI Criminal Misc. Application No. 232 of 2020 Shaikh Muhammad Akbar Through attorney Ali Haider Jatoi… Versus The State and another

Date of hearing & Order : 20.07.2020.

This case revolves around the issue of blocking the Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) of an individual deemed to be an absconder. This particular case from the High Court of Sindh at Karachi appears to set a stringent standard for blocking a CNIC under Pakistani law.

The legal principles established by the court can be summarised as follows:

  1. Due Process: The court emphasises that any action taken against an individual, such as blocking their CNIC, must be in accordance with due process. In this case, due process refers to the proper initiation and completion of proceedings under Section 87 & 88 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
  2. Presumption of Innocence: Implicit in the court’s judgement is the notion that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The court appears to take issue with the fact that the individual was declared an absconder without any concrete proceedings, essentially penalising him before any formal legal declaration of his status.
  3. Right to Fair Trial: The applicant argued that the blocking of his CNIC made it impossible for him to surrender before the court, thereby obstructing his right to a fair trial. The court seemed to agree with this viewpoint, noting that the blocking of the CNIC was “harsh” given that no proceedings under Section 87 & 88 CrPC had been initiated.
  4. Burden of Proof: It is not enough for the prosecution to merely state that the accused is an absconder; this needs to be proven through proper legal channels. The prosecution conceded that no such proceedings had been initiated, which weighed heavily in the court’s decision to unblock the CNIC.
  5. Judicial Oversight: The court also appears to assert its role in overseeing executive actions. In this case, the court did not hesitate to set aside orders from lower courts that it found to be unfair or lacking in due process.

The court’s judgement, therefore, underscores the importance of following established legal procedures and upholds the principles of due process and fair trial. It signals to lower courts and authorities that any decision to block a CNIC should not be taken lightly and must be backed by solid legal procedures and evidence.

This case serves as an important precedent and guideline for future instances where the state might seek to block a person’s CNIC on grounds of them being an absconder. It emphasises that such a serious action can only be taken when supported by proper legal proceedings, thereby safeguarding individual rights against arbitrary state action.

This judgement also has broader implications for legal practitioners and policy-makers.

  1. Accountability of Investigating Officers: The case throws light on the responsibilities of investigating officers. In this particular instance, the court noted that the Investigating Officer (I.O) had not bothered to approach the proper addresses of the applicant, leading to a misconceived report. This serves as a cautionary tale for law enforcement agencies to exercise due diligence before taking actions that could significantly impact an individual’s rights.
  2. Administrative Actions Subject to Judicial Review: The court’s order to unblock the CNIC reinforces the principle that administrative actions, such as blocking a CNIC, are subject to judicial review. This serves as a check on the powers of the executive branch and ensures that any actions taken are in strict compliance with the law.
  3. Human Rights and Dignity: While not explicitly stated, underlying the court’s judgement is a respect for human rights and dignity. Blocking a CNIC can have wide-ranging implications for an individual, affecting everything from their ability to travel to access to social services. The court’s decision emphasises that such a severe measure should only be undertaken with adequate legal justification.
  4. Clarity for Lower Courts: The decision serves as guidance for lower courts, making it clear that orders for blocking CNICs must be made judiciously and in accordance with established procedures. It is likely that lower courts will be more circumspect in the future when faced with similar requests.
  5. Legal Precedent: This judgement sets an important precedent for similar cases that might arise in the future. It delineates the circumstances under which blocking a CNIC would be considered legally permissible, thus adding to the corpus of case law on this subject.

In summary, the case serves as an important judicial statement on the legal principles that must be adhered to when considering the blocking of a CNIC for someone deemed an absconder. It stresses the importance of due process, the presumption of innocence, and the need for judicial oversight over administrative actions. Moreover, it serves as a guideline for how law enforcement agencies should conduct themselves, reinforcing the need for thorough investigation and adherence to legal procedures. The case adds significant value to Pakistani jurisprudence on this subject matter.

Blocking of CNIC’s Under Section 18 of the NADRA ORDINANCE 2000

In the legal landscape of Pakistan, the blocking of Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) has been a subject of considerable debate and judicial scrutiny. Various cases have been brought before the courts, each adding a layer of complexity to the existing jurisprudence on the matter. The legal principles emerging from the cited cases can be analysed under several key themes.

Right to Due Process

One of the recurring principles is the right to due process. The National Database and Registration Authority Ordinance, 2000 (NADRA Ordinance) stipulates the conditions under which a CNIC may be cancelled, impounded, or confiscated. The courts have consistently held that any action taken without adhering to these conditions would be void. For example, in PLJ 2022 Lahore 803, the court explicitly stated that a CNIC is essential for the enjoyment of numerous fundamental rights and a person cannot be deprived of it without due process of law.

Limited Scope of Authority

The courts have also clarified the limited scope of NADRA’s authority in blocking CNICs. In 2021 PLD 492, the Karachi High Court elaborated that NADRA does not possess the power to block a CNIC unless it has been finally determined that the card should be cancelled, impounded, or confiscated. This underscores the principle that the authority’s actions must strictly adhere to the legislative framework.

Impact on Fundamental Rights

Several cases have emphasised the impact of blocking a CNIC on an individual’s fundamental rights. For example, blocking a CNIC can cripple an individual’s ability to engage in financial transactions, obtain a passport, and even affect daily routines. This was highlighted in 2022 PLD 756, where the court noted that the trial court could issue directions to NADRA for digitally impounding or blocking the CNIC, thereby effectively strangulating the individual’s financial resources.

Jurisdictional Issues

The issue of jurisdiction has also been prominently featured. The courts have clarified that orders for blocking CNICs cannot be passed without considering the relevant sections of the NADRA Ordinance. For instance, in 2017 PLD 585, the Karachi High Court laid down the procedure that NADRA must follow before impounding a person’s CNIC, thereby indicating that such powers must be exercised judiciously and within the bounds of the law.

Procedural Safeguards

Lastly, procedural safeguards have been stressed in multiple judgments. For example, in 2018 MLD 1748, the High Court directed the authorities to de-block the CNICs and passports of the petitioner and his family members, emphasising the necessity of a thorough investigation or inquiry before taking such drastic measures.

Case law review

In 2022 PLD 756 Lahore High Court case involving Hafiz Awais Zafar, the court clarified that Section 18 of the Ordinance allows the Federal Government to cancel, impound, or confiscate CNICs, but only after giving a show cause notice to the cardholder. The court emphasized that these provisions must be “strictly construed and scrupulously followed” as they have a direct impact on a citizen’s fundamental rights. The court also made it clear that the Section does not allow for the blocking or digital impounding of a CNIC to compel a person to appear before a court. Such actions were deemed contrary to Article 175(2) of the Constitution and the concept of the rule of law.

The court further elaborated on the essential nature of the CNIC, stating that it is vital for the enjoyment of a multitude of fundamental rights, thus reiterating that a person cannot be deprived of it without due process.

Another interesting aspect arises from the case citation 2021 PLD 492 from the Karachi High Court. It highlighted that Section 18 should not be invoked in every case to question the authenticity of a CNIC. The court emphasized that the blocking of a CNIC could only occur if it was determined or adjudicated that the card should be cancelled, impounded, or confiscated. It also criticized NADRA’s approach in issuing show-cause notices without clear reasons, stating that such actions were arbitrary.

In the 2017 PLD 585 Karachi High Court case, the court stated explicitly that NADRA had no authority to block a CNIC under Section 23 of the Ordinance and could only physically or digitally “impound” a CNIC under the guidelines set forth in Section 18 after providing notice and an opportunity for hearing to the cardholder.

In summary, the courts have consistently held that NADRA’s powers under Section 18 are not unfettered. Any actions taken to cancel, impound, or confiscate a CNIC must be in strict accordance with the law and due process, given the significant impact such actions have on a citizen’s fundamental rights. The blocking or digital impounding of a CNIC, in particular, has been deemed to not have the sanction of law and is thus not permissible under Section 18.

 It’s essential to note that the courts have also looked at NADRA’s role in determining paternity and citizenship status. For instance, in the 2021 PLD 105 Islamabad case, the court held that NADRA lacked the jurisdiction to adjudicate on family disputes, including questions of disputed paternity. This restriction underlines the court’s view that NADRA’s powers should be narrowly construed and limited to the specific mandates outlined in the legislation.

Moreover, in the case of Hafiz Hamdullah Saboor (2021 PLD 305), the court stressed that arbitrary actions by NADRA in blocking or cancelling CNICs could have “profound and grave consequences,” virtually halting a person’s life and denying the exercise of fundamental rights. In this particular case, the court clearly stated that such arbitrary actions were in excess of NADRA’s jurisdiction under the Ordinance.

The Karachi High Court in 2018 MLD 1748 emphasized the importance of due process. In this case, the CNICs of the petitioner and his family were blocked merely on the basis of suspicion. The court directed the authorities to de-block the CNICs, underscoring the need for proper investigation or inquiry before taking such drastic measures.

Additionally, the courts have been critical of NADRA’s use of arbitrary cut-off dates and vague notices. In the 2021 PLD 492 Karachi High Court case, the court criticised NADRA for asking the petitioner to submit documents prior to 1978 without providing any rationale for this specific date.

In conclusion, these cases collectively indicate that while NADRA holds significant power under Section 18 of the Ordinance, this power is constrained by constitutional principles, the rule of law, and the need for due process. Any deviation from these guiding principles, as observed in the cited cases, leads to legal challenges that have often resulted in the courts ruling against NADRA’s actions.

The consistent thread running through these judgements is the emphasis on the rule of law and respect for individual rights. Courts are particularly wary of actions that infringe upon fundamental freedoms without clear legal justification. As such, NADRA must tread carefully, adhering strictly to the legal frameworks that govern its operations, particularly when dealing with matters as sensitive as personal identification and citizenship.

There are also some more cases which shed light on the complex landscape of NADRA’s powers and limitations under Sections 17, 18, and 23 of the National Database and Registration Authority Ordinance, 2000.

In the 2016 PLD 1 Quetta-High-Court-Balochistan case, the court clarified that NADRA does possess the authority to investigate and inquire when there is doubt about a CNIC. This case established that NADRA could demand specific documents for verification. However, before taking any adverse actions like cancellation or impounding, NADRA must issue a notice under Section 17, and the aggrieved individual has the right to appeal to the Federal Government under Section 18(3). The court dismissed the constitutional petition as premature, highlighting the importance of exhausting all available remedies before resorting to the court.

The 2016 CLC 1928 Peshawar-High-Court case echoes the right to appeal under Section 18(3). The court converted the constitutional petition into an appeal and sent it to the Secretary, Ministry of Interior, for resolution. This case also emphasizes the necessity of considering the broader context, like the legal status of other family members, when deciding these matters.

The 2011 PLD 47 Peshawar-High-Court cases stress the requirement of due process. NADRA cannot cancel or impound a CNIC without giving the holder an opportunity to be heard. This underlines the importance of procedural fairness in the exercise of NADRA’s powers.

The 2005 CLC 1215 Lahore-High-Court-Lahore case seems to focus on the period of validity of a National Identity Card, although the details are not fully elaborated. Nevertheless, it suggests that the courts scrutinise even the technical aspects of NADRA’s operations.

Finally, the 2003 YLR 2335 Karachi-High-Court-Sindh case addresses the jurisdictional aspects, stating that complaints for offences related to NADRA should be filed by the Authority itself or a gazetted officer authorised by it. It adds another layer of complexity, specifying who has the authority to initiate legal proceedings for offences related to identity cards.

In summary, the cases collectively affirm that while NADRA has significant powers, these are not unbridled. They are circumscribed by procedural requirements, the need for due process, and the availability of appeals to higher authorities. The courts are vigilant in ensuring that NADRA’s actions comply with the legal frameworks, particularly when they have the potential to impact fundamental rights and liberties. 

Legal Note on Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) Guidelines for Reporting STRs on CNIC/Passport Cancellation or Blockage

Reference:

  • Document: Guidelines for Reporting Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs)
  • Issued By: Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), Government of Pakistan
  • Date: April 08, 2020
  • Ref No.: FMU/G&F/001//2020

Recipients:

  1. Presidents/CEOs of All Banks
  2. Managing Director, SBP BSC, Karachi
  3. Director General, Central Directorate of National Savings, Islamabad
  4. Director General, Pakistan Post Office, Islamabad

Subject:

Guidelines on Reporting STRs related to Cancellation/Blockage of CNICs/Passports & Registrations/Licenses by Authorities.

Context and Background:

  • National Database Regulatory Authority (NADRA), Director General, Immigration & Passport (IMPASS), and other relevant authorities often cancel/block Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC)/ Passport or other national IDs.
  • Federal and Provincial authorities also revoke registrations/licenses like Arms License, NGO/NPO Trust registration, company delistings, etc.
  • These actions prompt reporting entities and stakeholders to escalate Suspicious Transaction Reports (STR) to the FMU.

Key Guidelines for STR Reporting:

  1. Analysis Before Reporting: STRs must be thoroughly analyzed for elements of Money Laundering (ML), Terrorist Financing (TF), and related predicate offences before reporting to FMU.
  2. Not Solely Based on Single Indicator: Reporting should not be based solely on one indicator (e.g., CNIC cancellation/blocking). A multifactorial approach should be adopted.

Developed Red Flag Indicators:

  1. Involvement in Crimes: CNIC/Passport cancellations due to alleged involvement in crimes, including transnational and organized crimes.
  2. Multiple CNICs/Passports: Possession of multiple CNICs/passports with varying information for illicit purposes.
  3. Revocation of Registrations/Licenses: By Federal/Provincial authorities.
  4. Source Analysis: Reasons for cancellation/revocation should be analyzed from the source (e.g., NADRA Verisys).
  5. Financial Transactions: Involvement in large/complex/unusual financial transactions or activities.
  6. UNSCR/OFAC Listings: Listing of suspect on United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1267, 1373, OFAC, FIA/Police databases.
  7. Associations: Close association with proscribed entities/individuals.
  8. Politically Exposed Persons (PEP): If the suspect is a PEP, their family members, close associates, or employees.
  9. Adverse Media Reports: Negative media or database information on the suspect.

Compliance:

  • All reporting entities and stakeholders are advised to comply with these guidelines.

Purpose and Significance:

  • These guidelines aim to enhance the effectiveness of STR reporting in combatting money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • The focus is on ensuring comprehensive analysis and responsible reporting, rather than solely relying on specific actions like CNIC/Passport cancellation.

Note:

  • Compliance with these guidelines is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the financial system and aiding in the prevention of financial crimes.

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