Supreme Court extends Assam NRC deadline to August 31

PTI

File Photo Supreme Court

File Photo Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the deadline for publication of final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam by a month to August 31 while rejecting the pleas seeking permission for 20 per cent sample re-verification.

The Centre and the Assam government sought permission for sample re-verification to find out wrongful inclusions and exclusions of persons in the NRC.

The order was passed by a bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R F Nariman, which perused the reports filed by the Assam NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela.

The Centre and the Assam government stands were advanced by Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, respectively.

Both the governments had on July 19 told the top court that “India cannot be the refugee capital of the world” and sought an extension of its deadline of July 31 to complete the Assam NRC.

They sought directions to conduct sample reverification to quell a growing perception that many illegal immigrants may have infiltrated the NRC especially in districts bordering Bangladesh.

The court had earlier reiterated that the deadline would not be extended.

Both the governments told the apex court that several lakh people have been wrongfully included in the NRC, specially in districts bordering Bangladesh due to the involvement of local officers in the massive exercise.

They moved the apex court on July 17 seeking a direction for 20 per cent sample re-verification of names included in the final NRC draft in the districts of Assam bordering Bangladesh and 10 per cent sample re-verification of names included in the final draft in the remaining districts.

The Centre’s plea also sought a direction that such re-verification exercise be conducted by Class I officers of the state government from other districts who have knowledge and experience of handling the process of enquiry/investigation.

The pleas of both the governments also sought a direction to fix the venue of the sample re-verification at a place which was not in the vicinity of the initial NRC verification to rule out the possibility of local influences, bias and threat.

They claimed that names of Indian citizens were excluded and illegal Bangladeshi migrants were included in the draft.

They also referred to the apex court’s 2018 order by which it had said it could consider a re-verification of 10 per cent of the people who were included in the draft NRC.

The top court had termed the issue as “human problem with great magnitude” and asked the state NRC coordinator to submit a report in a sealed cover on the ramification of allowing the claimants to file new sets of legacy documents.

The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published on the intervening night of December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018 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 an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.

(PTI)