ISLAMABAD: The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) held a consultation on Sunday regarding the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) judgement against the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018 and the resultant halting of ‘X’ NIC registration at the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).
Following the May 2023 ruling of the FSC against the provisions of Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018, Nadra has halted the registration of transgender people. The decision has received push-back from the legal community, civil society and human rights activists.
The NCHR consultation included members of the transgender community, representatives of the inclusivity wing at Nadra, legal experts and representatives of the Ministry of Human Rights.
The consultation was led by NCHR Chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha.
The meeting was informed that NCHR was a staunch supporter of the fundamental rights of transgender persons and protecting these rights was a prominent direction adopted within NCHR’s strategic vision. Additionally, NCHR deals with complaints and investigates violence against transgender persons as per its judicial mandate.
Ms Agha informed the participants, “Without a CNIC, transgender persons are deprived of their fundamental and constitutional rights.”
Mani, a transgender activist, said it took Nadra a long time to establish an effective communication with the transgender community. Mani said the rolling back of the ‘X’ registration process had brought back fear and trauma in the transgender community and had “disbalanced their relationship with Nadra”.
Zarin, another transgender activist, said she visited a Nadra centre to renew her ‘X’ card, but was not able to do so due to the absence of the ‘X’ section in the gender category of Nadra systems.
Former senator Farhatullah Babar, who was party to one of the appeals against the FSC judgement, asserted that the decision to halt the registration process for transgender persons had “not only rendered them helpless, but stateless”.
He said, “Hearings for appeals against the FSC judgement must take place on an urgent basis because the halted NIC registration must be continued.”
Legal expert Reema Omar was of the opinion that the FSC judgement was still in its appeal period, hence not fully in effect, which meant that Nadra may continue registration for transgender persons. She said the fundamental rights of transgender persons were constitutionally mandated. She hoped that Nadra would restart the registration process for transgender persons.
Director of Inclusive Registration at Nadra Reema Aftab said they were following the instructions of their legal department when they made the decision to roll back the registration of the transgender persons. She said she was unhappy with the situation, adding, “If Nadra does not issue CNICs, people will not have access to any rights.”
A legal representative from Nadra claimed that they had not received any copies of appeals that had been filed against the FSC judgement.
Nayab Ali, a human rights activist and member of the transgender community, said Nadra’s actions were in contravention of the Constitution. She shared her concerns regarding the matter, stating that the registration of transgender persons must be continued before the upcoming elections.
Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2023