New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday came down heavily on the Centre over the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) process and said it is hell bent on not allowing the work to continue. The top court rapped Ministry of Home Affairs for its plea seeking to stall the NRC work for two weeks keeping in mind the role of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) in the election duty.
Reiterating that July 31 deadline for the completion of NRC exercise will not be extended, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the Centre is not cooperating in the NRC process and it seems the entire effort of the MHA is to destroy the NRC process.
The apex court asked the Election Commission to consider exempting certain state officers from election duty to ensure that NRC process continues. The top court had said on January 24 that the July 31, 2019 deadline to finalise the NRC for Assam cannot be extended. It had asked the state government, the NRC co-ordinator and the EC to ensure that the upcoming general elections did not slow down the process.
The draft National Register of Citizens for Assam was published on July 30, 2018 in which the names of 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore people were included. The names of 40,70,707 people did not figure in the list. Of these, 37,59,630 names have been rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 are on hold.
Earlier, the apex court had extended till December 31, 2018 the deadline for filing claims and objections for inclusion of names in the NRC in Assam by those who have been left out in the draft NRC. It had also made clear that the deadline for verifying the claims for inclusion in the NRC would be February 15, 2019 instead of February 1.
The apex court had allowed the use of five more documents by claimants for the draft Assam NRC, saying the premise “better to exclude genuine person than to include a wrongful person” can’t be accepted.
The claimants for draft Assam NRC can now stake claim with the help of total 15 documents provided in List-A of the claim form. The five new documents allowed by the bench to prove the legacy for the claimants include extract of names in NRC, 1951; extract/certified copy of Electoral Rolls up to the midnight of March 24, 1971 and Citizenship Certificate and refugee certificate issued by competent authority (up to March 24, 1971 midnight).
The other two legacy documents include Certified copies of pre-1971 Electoral Roll, particularly, those issued from Tripura and the ration card. The court had also accepted the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) prepared by the Centre and had fixed the timeline for various stages in publication of draft final NRC.
The apex court had on September 5 had allowed use any one of the 10 of a total 15 documents provided in List-A of the claim form to be used by the claimants for proving legacy. The ten legacy documents which were made admissible include land documents like registered sale deed, permanent residential certificate issued from outside the State, passport and LIC insurance policy of the relevant period.
The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 in accordance with the top court’s direction. Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated then. Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state to have an NRC, first prepared in 1951.