The Centre and the Assam government on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court, seeking 20 per cent sample reverification of names included in the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the districts bordering Bangladesh, and extension of the July 31 deadline set by the court for publishing the final NRC.
Mentioning the pleas before a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought an urgent hearing. The bench said it will examine the request.
The applications requested the court to “pass an order directing 20% sample reverification of names included in the final draft NRC in districts of State of Assam bordering Bangladesh and a 10% sample reverification of names included in the final draft NRC in the remaining districts of Assam”.
They also wanted the court to pass orders “directing such reverification to 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” and “directing the venue of sample reverification be undertaken at the place different from the place where the NRC exercise had taken place”.
The Centre and state urged the court “to suitably modify the timeline fixed for publication of the final from 31st July 2019 to a future date”.
The applications pointed out that Assam had filed an affidavit on August 27, 2018 suggesting reverification as a means to address concerns about exclusion of genuine citizens and inclusion of illegal immigrants.
Following this, the court, in its order dated August 28, 2018, had said “we are of the view that the court should consider the necessity of carrying out the sample reverification of at least 10% of the names included in the final draft NRC”, the parties pointed out.
After this order, Assam filed another application on October 29, 2018 “seeking reverification of samples to be done and completed before proceeding further with claims and objections and also prayed for constitution of a High Level Committee for identification of criteria and prepare guidelines for reverification exercise to be carried out by the State Coordinator and monitor the same closely”, it said, adding “however no order has been passed by this honourable court for reverification”.
The applications said that hearing on claims and objections had started February 15 and two types of hearing were on — family tree-based hearing and family-based hearing.
Stressing the need for reverification, the Centre’s application cited likely law and order problems. It said “the list prepared after this exercise will be final and will have critical impact on the people whose names may not be included in the same. It is therefore pertinent that the exercise of sample verification must necessarily follow before the publication of the final list”.
The Centre said “while every step is being taken to ensure that the process of preparation for final NRC is correct and fair”, a reverification would be in order “considering the unprecedented large scale of complexities involved and the issues coming forward by way of various applications and news reports”.
Its plea said that the sample reverification being sought was both for inclusions and exclusions. It pointed out that while 2,89,83,677 people were included in the final draft, the number of objections received was only 2 lakh.