A larger bench of the Balochistan High Court (BHC), Quetta, comprising Chief Justice Muhammad Noor Meskanzai, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Muhammad Hashim Khan Kakar, has said that a domicile certificate cannot be an alternative for Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC).
Giving the provincial government time until March 2018 to do necessary legislation, the court ordered that from now on, domicile will not be used by any educational institute to admit students or by any employer to hire new employees.
The court gave this order while announcing its verdict on local and domicile applications. The court said that a lot of applications were filed for local and domicile issues. In this regard, the court had heard the witnesses’ details of related parties.
It is significant to note that Balochistan is a multicultural province, with the population having a fine mix of Baloch, Pakhtuns, Hazaras and many settlers. Here, local certificates are issued to those who are a part of ancient tribes and the Balochistan government has already notified these tribes. On the other hand, domiciles are issued to those who are not a part of these tribes, but they have been living in Balochistan for a long time. Such people are commonly known as ‘settlers’.
There is no particular order to give a post or seat to locals or settlers. There is only one requirement for them to clinch these posts or seats and that is to present their local or domicile certificates before the deputy commissioners of their districts.
The court said that due to backward lifestyle, the people of Balochistan are clearly behind the other provinces in terms of education and future planning. It further added, “It has become a routine that people from other provinces come to Balochistan, get admission in local universities and finally secure jobs in government sector here.”
The court said that this decision had been made so that anyone willing to secure a job or get an admission in a university may present his/her PRC to the deputy commissioner of the relevant district. The court highlighted that it was sad that no legislation had been made in this regard so far. “This was one of the main problems of Balochistan and the people of Balochistan were mainly affected by this issue,” it added.
For dealing with this situation, the Balochistan government had made a special mechanism to deal with local and domicile certificates, and it also made committees at district level to issue these certificates. However, no laws, rules and regulations were made to issue these certificates. This is the reason why these certificates were being issued under the administrative authority of deputy commissioners.
The court said that a domicile is issued under Section 17 of the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951. This domicile is applicable for the entire country and this has nothing to do with being citizen of any specific district or country.
Expressing dissatisfaction over these rules, the court said that in the past, government officers from other provinces had been appointed in Balochistan, who then got domicile certificates for their children here. “Then their children got enrolled in the educational institutions of Balochistan and also secured government jobs here,” the court said.
The court added that due to this reason, the people of Balochistan had been deprived of many opportunities in their own province. “The people of other provinces, who got appointed here, when transferred from Balochistan, did not continue to remain permanent citizens of Balochistan and they also never returned to Balochistan,” it added.
The court said that unfortunately, it had been a routine practice for the past four decades and no legislation had been made to deal with this situation.
Giving example of many observations and cases, the BHC said that in these cases, instructions were issued, but the provincial government failed to do any legislation. It further added that the best way for the provincial government is to take the path chosen by other provinces and that is to form a permanent residence law for Balochistan. The court was optimistic that legislation will be done as per the instructions and in future, a PRC will be issued as per the rules and regulations.
The respected larger bench, in its final statement, said that after detailed arguments, the court has reached a final decision that domicile and PRC are two different things and they must not be used as alternatives. The court said that the 1951 Act and 1952 rules are for just one domicile, that is just for Pakistan. “It has no particular relation to a specific province, district or area,” it added.
The court further explained, “If a person lives in a particular province or district and decides to shift to another province to be a permanent resident there, then it will not affect the status of his/her domicile; however, his/her former PRC will be cancelled.”
The court said that in future, domicile certificates will not be used against the set of rules highlighted in the Section 17 of the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951. It added that only the PRC of a student or a potential job candidate will be taken into consideration by educational institutions or other firms for employment.
For the implementation of this decision, the court advised the Balochistan chief secretary to take all necessary steps, including formation of legislation, before or by March 31, 2018. After this time, the court added that the heads of provincial and federal departments, educational institutions, corporations and independent organisations should seek a PRC — not domicile — for employing someone or giving admission to someone.
The court resolved all applications and dispatched the copies of its verdict to Balochistan chief secretary, deputy commissioners, provincial secretaries, principals of medical colleges, vice chancellors of universities and secretary Establishment Division of the Government of Pakistan.