The Supreme Court has extended the deadline for publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam to August 31, 2019. It has however turned down the appeals for reverification of names in border areas.
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Previously, the court had directed the NRC authorities to publish the list by July 31, 2019, but NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela appealed for an extension. Responding to this a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice RF Nariman ruled, “At the outset, we take the view that having regard to the grounds on which the learned Coordinator in his report dated 10.7.2019 has sought for extension of time upto 31.8.2019 for publishing the final N.R.C., extension prayed for should be allowed. We accordingly grant the aforesaid extension of time, namely, upto 31.8.2019.”
On July 19, the union government as well as the state of Assam had also appealed for reverification of 20 percent of the names of people included in districts adjoining the Bangladesh border. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that sample reverification of 20 percent of the inclusions of people living in districts bordering the Bangladesh border was required. Mehta said, “Wrongful inclusions are manifold in the districts bordering Bangladesh.” Mehta then made a shocking statement, “India cannot be the refugee capital of the world.” Interestingly, NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela submitted that around 80 lakh people had been subject to reverification already and that this amounted to 27 percent of the claims.
The court today rejected this request and said, “In this regard, we have taken note of our previous order dated 28.8.2018, whereby we had kept the issue alive. We have also read and considered the response of Mr. Hazela, the learned Coordinator on this aspect of the matter and specifically, the stand taken by him in his report dated 18.7.2019, which is to the effect that in the course of consideration/adjudication of the claims, re-verification to the extent of 27% has already been done. In fact, in the said report, the learned Coordinator has mentioned district wise figures of such re-verification which has become an integral part of the process of consideration of the claims and objections on account of the procedure adopted. In that view of the matter, we do not consider it necessary to accede to the prayers for a further sample verification as prayed for on behalf of the Union of India and the State of Assam.”
However, Prateek Hajela had raised two important points in his report with respect to which he has sought clarification from the SC. The points are:
1) What happens to people who have one parent who is a D Voter or a Declared Foreigner or a decendant of one, but one parent who isn’t. Given how one can choose any parent as a legacy person, should such people be included in the NRC?
2) What about the validity of orders passed under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) (IMDT) Act?
The matter will be heard next on August 7 when the court will hear all petitioners, and all stakeholders will be required to be present. The entire order may be read here:
4(5), 5 and 6 of the Schedule to the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. I am looking into this.