SC asks authorities not to take any coercive action over Assam’s draft NRC


File Photo Supreme Court

File Photo Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the publication of the complete draft NRC of Assam cannot be the basis of any coercive action against anyone since it is merely a draft.

It also directed the Centre to formulate standard operating procedure (SOP) to deal with claims and objections.

The apex court directed the Centre to place the SOP before it for approval and said it should be fair and giving reasonable opportunity to contest exclusion.

A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman said the Centre should place the SOP before it by August 16 and that a local registrar has to give notice to those who have filed claims and objections, and give them reasonable opportunity for hearing.

At the outset, Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) coordinator Prateek Hajela placed before the court its status report giving details of publication of the draft NRC on July 30, 2018.

To this the bench asked what the future course of action was.

Hajela told the court that the claims and objections with regard to inclusion and exclusion in the NRC could be filed from August 30 to September 28.

He said till August 7, the draft NRC is being made available to the people to see whether their names are there or not.

Attorney General K K Venugopal , appearing for the Centre, said the ministry concerned is willing to formulate modalities of the SOP to deal with the process of claims and objections and that courts should direct that no coercive action shall be taken till equal opportunity is given to all.

The bench asked Venugopal to place the SOP before it for approval.

The second and final draft of the NRC, which is a list of the state’s citizens, was published on July 30, 2018 with over 2.89 crore names out of 3.29 crore applicants in Assam. Names of around 40.07 lakh applicants did not figure in the document.

The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published in December end as per the top court’s direction. It was published on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 where names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated.

Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC, which was first prepared in 1951.

The top court had earlier said that the claims of those citizens, whose names do not figure in the draft NRC for Assam published by December 31 last year, would be scrutinized and included in the subsequent list, if found genuine.