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2019 NRC list not ‘final’; 4,700 names ineligible, Guwahati HC told

The NRC, published in August last year under direct supervision of the Supreme Court, excluded 19 lakh odd persons — including around 5.56 lakh Hindus and over 11 lakh Muslims, according to state government estimates — from around 3.3 crore applicants.

Written by Abhishek Saha | Guwahati | Updated: December 10, 2020 7:15:02 am
2019 NRC list not ‘final’; 4,700 names ineligible, Guwahati HC toldThe NRC process has hit a stonewall since then with the NRC office yet to issue rejection orders to the 19 lakh excluded persons. (File)

CONTRARY TO THE STATED position so far, Assam’s NRC (National Register of Citizens) Coordinator Hitesh Sarma has told the Guwahati High Court that the final NRC is “yet to be published” by the Registrar General of India (RGI).

In a December 3 affidavit to the High Court, Sarma said the RGI was silent on the publication of the “Final NRC”. He termed the list published on August 31, 2019, as “Supplementary NRC” and said it included 4,700-odd ineligible names.

The Indian Express accessed a copy of the affidavit on Wednesday.

The NRC, published in August last year under direct supervision of the Supreme Court, excluded 19 lakh odd persons — including around 5.56 lakh Hindus and over 11 lakh Muslims, according to state government estimates — from around 3.3 crore applicants. In a press statement, the then NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela had called it the “Final NRC”.

The Assam government, however, holds the August 2019 list erroneous and had blamed Hajela for creating a flawed NRC. He was shifted out of the state by the Supreme Court last year soon after his relationship with the state government deteriorated.

The NRC process has hit a stonewall since then with the NRC office yet to issue rejection orders to the 19 lakh excluded persons. Only after these persons receive the rejection orders can they appeal against their exclusion in the Foreigners’ Tribunals.

In the affidavit, Sarma submitted that all anomalies detected by him in the published NRC were communicated to the
RGI in February this year. Further, he had sought “necessary directions for corrective measures in the interest of an error free NRC which is of utmost importance as NRC is directly related to national security and integrity”. However, the RGI has not given any directions on dealing with the anomalies, he said.

“Rather instructions have been received for issue of rejection slips and winding up of the operation of updation of NRC. The Registrar General of India is also silent on final publication of the NRC for which it is the only authority to take action and till date the Final NRC is yet to be published by Registrar General of India as per Clause 7 of the rules under the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules 2003,” Sarma wrote.

Read | NRC fundamentally wrong… new one after polls if SC allows: Himanta

The Assam government holds the NRC published in August 2019 to be erroneous with wrongful inclusions and exclusions and has appealed to the Supreme Court that there should be a re-verification of the names included in the NRC — re-verification of 20 per cent of included names in the border districts and 10 per cent elsewhere.

Sarma wrote that after the publication of the NRC in August 2019, some district heads of the exercise, the District Registrar of Citizen Registration (DRCR), had written to the then state coordinator seeking a change in the results of some persons. A total of 10,199 requests were made, of which 5,404 were for changing the result from ‘Reject’ to ‘Accept’ and 4,795 were for changing the result from ‘Accept’ to ‘Reject’.

Of the 4,795 requests, 1,032 were for removing names because they fell into categories of Declared Foreigners (DF), Doubtful Voter (DV), persons with cases pending at Foreigners Tribunals (PFT), and the descendants of these categories. Remaining 3,763 requests were for removing names because of “other reasons”.

Sarma has already written to the in-charge of the NRC in districts to remove the 1,032 names in October. Action on the 3,763 names, Sarma wrote, will be “considered after further verification subject to approval by the Registrar General of India”.

“For putting the verification mechanism in place, approval of the Registrar General of India is needed and if agreed upon, necessary sanction of funds by the Registrar General of India will be required for such verification,” Sarma wrote.

In the affidavit, Sarma has gone to great length to establish how there were flaws in different steps of the NRC process with Hajela at the helm — how people were marked ‘original inhabitants’ even though they did not fall into the category; how verification steps were not executed with due diligence; how the “integrity of some of the verifying officers were not beyond doubt”; and lack of quality checks by superior officers, among others.

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