THE SUPREME Court on Thursday sought views of various stakeholders on the draft Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) drawn up by the Centre to deal with claims and objections to the final draft National Citizens Register (NRC) even as it remained non-committal on the proposal for two months time to receive the claims and objections.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman gave the Assam Public Works, Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha — an indigenous people’s organisation — National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Progressive), Indigenous Tribal People’s Federation, All Assam Bhojpuri Parishad, Joint Action Committee for Bengali Refugees, All Assam Minority Students Union and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind time till August 25 to submit their views.
The court also asked Assam NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela to submit in a sealed cover by August 25, “the percentage of the population in each district (district-wise) who have been left out of the final draft NRC”. The bench said it had “read and considered” the SOP but was not commenting on any of the modalities suggested.
The Centre’s SOP had suggested extending the time for filing claims and objections regarding inclusion of names in the draft NRC from the one month (August 30 to September 28) proposed initially to two months (August 30 to October 28). Justice Gogoi, however, said the process will start on August 30, and that “further directions will follow”.
Allowing the stakeholders to submit their views, the court, however, made it clear that it will not hear political parties. The bench said “this is entirely our discretion…who we will consult is our privilege”. It also asked Hajela to make available copies of the final draft NRC in all panchayat offices and such other places so as to provide easy access to it.
The final Draft NRC for Assam published last month in pursuance of a Supreme Court-monitored exercise to identify Indian nationals living in the state had left out 12 per cent of its population. In his compliance report to the court, the NRC coordinator had said that out of the state’s 3.29 crore population, 2.89 crore names had been included in the Final Draft NRC while 40,70,707 people could not make it to the register. Of these, 37,59,630 names had been rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 were on hold, he had told the Bench on July 31.
The Bench clarified that it had kept open a plea by a transgenders association regarding non-inclusion of their names in the NRC. The SOP filed by MHA last week said the Centre proposes to include Indian citizens who are not from Bangladesh and who moved to Assam from other parts of the country before or after March 24, 1971 in the NRC if their citizenship is proved beyond reasonable doubt.