“Claims Look Legitimate”, AG to Supreme Court on plea seeking Aadhaar Cards for those included in the NRC list

The Supreme Court on Thursday. October 13, granted two weeks to the central government to look into the matter pertaining to the issuance of Aadhaar cards to nearly 27 lakh persons who were added in the supplementary list of Assam National Register of Citizens published in August 2019. The matter, Sushmita Dev versus Union of India and others, WP(c) 1361/2021was heard by a bench comprising Chief Justice U.U. Lalit and Justice Bela M. Trivedi.

NRCRepresentation Image | Courtesy: The Indian Express

At the start of the hearing, as reported by LiveLaw, the counsel appearing for petitioners, Senior Advocate Biswajit Deb submitted that while citizens whose names had been mentioned in the first National Register of Citizens (NRC) list had received their Aadhar Cards, the same was not the case for those whose names had occurred in the second list.

In response, Attorney General For India, R. Venkataramani sought two weeks to look into the matter and said, “ “These look like legitimate claims. As an interim measure if there is something, that can be looked into. I can come back in two weeks.

Accordingly, the CJI granted him two weeks and added that a note also may be submitted so that issues in the matter could be collated and looked at. The matter is now listed for 9th November 2022.

At the last hearing in the matter, the court had issued notice to the Union Government, the Registrar General of India, Unique Identification Authority of India(UIDAI) and the State of Assam in the petition which was filed by All India Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev.

The petition filed through Advocate-on-Record Tulika Mukherjee states that though the people whose names were included in the Final List tried to apply for Aadhar Cards, the UIDAI rejected their applications. It was stated that the petitioner received representations from several people who were not able to obtain Aadhaar cards. Arguing that the denial of Aadhaar cards to persons included in the second list amounts to discrimination and arbitrariness resulting in the infraction of Article 14, the plea states:

It is submitted that by not providing the Aadhar numbers to the people appearing in the Final list dated 31.08.2019, there has been creation of a class within a class, as the people in the Final Supplementary List are being treated differently from the people whose names appeared in the First Draft List on 31.12.2017. It is submitted there exists no bar with respect to people whose names appeared in the First Draft List and in the subsequent NRC List on 31.08.2019. It is submitted that both sets of people are equal in the sense that their names appear in the NRC and therefore, should be meted out equal treatment with respect to their rights which arise from their registration under the same.

The petition also submitted that once a person had been registered under the NRC, whether it be in the First Draft List or the Supplementary List, they were entitled to the same benefits as that of any Citizen of India, and therefore, there existed no intelligible differentia between persons whose names appear in the NRC.

Further, the petition argues that there existed no bar under the Aadhar Act to deny Aadhar number to persons whose names appeared in the Final Supplementary NRC list released on 31.08.2019. The only criteria laid down under the Aadhar Act was that the person should have been a resident of the Country for a period of 182 days or more in the preceding 12 months prior to filing an application. Finally, as the Aadhar Number was not a proof of citizenship, grant of Aadhar would have no bearing on the effect of the object and purpose of the Citizenship Act.

CJP in Assam

CJP’s unqiue and widespread humanitarian work in the state of Assam has led to documentation of over 600 specific such cases where those included in the NRC are waiting in vain for t their Aadhar enrolment. The impact? They cannot open a bank account, enrol in schools neither are they entitled to any benefits under government schemes. The state government even told the state assembly that 27 lakh persons are thus excluded.

Thousands in Assam who have made it to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) are waiting to enrol for Aadhaar more than 14 months after the list was published in 2018. The issue has brought back into focus the controversial Rs 1,600-crore citizenship registry, the fate of which is now in limbo. 

What happens when you are not issued an Aadhar?

The unique ID, commonly known as Aadhaar, is linked to a 12-digit number. Over the years, it has become an important tool of identification. Officials say they receive several complaints every day from citizens on the issue. Many others have taken to social media to convey how they are suffering in the absence of Aadhaar.

The background: NRC

Of the around 33 million applicants who filled up forms to get their names included in the registry, around four million could not make it to the draft list, which was published in 2018.These rejects had the option of filing claims for inclusion in the register. There was another provision to file complaints or objections against those who had their names in the draft list of the register. To simplify this complex process, the state government, the Centre and the office of the state coordinator of the NRC came up with a standard operating procedure.

The standard operating procedure (SOP), meanwhile, made it mandatory for all those who were part of the claims and objections exercise to submit their biometric details.

“During the hearings of claims and objections, the State Government, in collaboration with the UIDAI, will undertake the process of biometric enrolment of all the applicants of NRC. The biometric enrolment in respect of persons who are part of claims and those persons objected upon will be distinctive and separate ID will be generated. Once the final NRC has been published such persons who are included in the NRC will be given the usual Aadhaar number as applicable to legal residents in the country. In case a person already has an Aadhaar number who is also a part of the claim or objected upon, his Aadhaar number will be obtained.” The Supreme Court approved the SOP on November 1, 2018.

As reported by Sabrangindia, it was ssam government’s Home and Political Department were appointed as registrar for the exercise. It was given the responsibility to undertake biometric enrolment of NRC applicants part of the claims and objections exercise. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues the 12-digit unique identification number commonly referred to as Aadhaar, was roped in to provide technical support. The biometric data collected during the exercise has been stored in UIDAI servers.

On August 31, 2019, the NRC authorities published a final list of the NRC, bringing down the number of rejects to 19,06,657. The ones whose claims were successful should have been automatically allotted their Aadhaar numbers as per the Supreme Court order. But the process is still stuck in bureaucratic red-tape.

Why are the Aadhaar numbers, three years down, not being issued?

Responses sought from the Assam government have gotten bureaucratic responses: that is, because the application receipt numbers (ARN) of the NRC applicants who have made it to the NRC list on August 31, 2019, have not been shared with the UIDAI authorities. The list of those who have made it to the NRC list is available with the NRC authorities who work under the Registrar General of India (RGI). The UIDAI authorities need access to these ARNs to start allotting Aadhaar.

While Assam government officials claim that they have raised the matter with the RGI, mentioning complaints from several of those denied. UIDAI authorities have stated that they will start generating the Aadhaar once they know the ARN of those who are in the final NRC list. The controversial state coordinator of the NRC Hitesh Dev Sarma, also spelt out in a communication that the unique ID can be issued to all the NRC applicants since it is not a proof of citizenship. However, it is the political conundrum –generated by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre and state –which is questioning the NRC process and its outcome itself that has apparently delayed and complicated things. Making the lives of 27 lakh persons a further misery.

Politcal posturing is again, resulting in basic rights denials to the citizenry, in Assam.


Assam Police shot dead 12-year-old returning from Aadhaar centre!

Aadhaar number mandatory to get govt benefits, subsidies: UIDAI

SC directs Aadhaar cards be issued to sex workers without insisting on the residential proof




Related Articles