ISLAMABAD  - The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday restored Tariq Malik as National Database Registration Authority chairman, suspending an official notification about his dismissal.

In a notification released by the federal government on December 2, Malik was removed as NADRA chief, and the then NADRA director general, Zahid Hussain, was brought to the top position.

In his petition, Malik made the federation, through the Establishment Division, and acting NADRA chairman Zahid Hussain the respondents.

High court judge Noorul Haq N Qureshi suspended the notifications about Malik’s removal and Hussain’s escalation. The court accepted Malik’s petition and restored him till next hearing by issuing notices to the respondents.

“Malik had been facing pressure from the government for voter’s verification through thumb impression. And as he refused to succumb to any pressure, he was suspended,” the counsel for Malik told journalists.

Earlier in the day, Babar Sattar submitted before the court that a NADRA chairman’s term length was three years and that his client’s appointment was just made on July 17, 2012. He stated he was terminated on December 2 through a letter that cited no reasons for his dismissal but just went on to say “it was according to the terms and condition”. Malik was provided with no opportunity of hearing, no show-cause, added the counsel.

Sattar maintained that “the Section 3 (5) of the NADRA Ordinance says that the tenure of NADRA chairman will be three years unless he is removed or terminated. And the Section 5 that deals with the termination says that the chairman could be terminated either due to physical or mental incapacity or misconduct,” but in Malik’s case, none had been the cause of action.

“NADRA is collegiate authority, where members delegate their powers to the chairman and they function collectively. If you remove the chairman, then the registration authority could not function,” the counsel argued before the court, adding that in the NADRA Ordinance, there was no provision about the acting chairman.

Acting NADRA chairman retired brigadier Zahid Hussain’s lawyer, Shoaib Shahin, accepted the court notices on behalf of his client, and sought some time to file a reply.

The court directed him to submit para-wise comments to the writ petition, and deferred the case till December 11.