A citizens’ jury, including former Supreme Court judges Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph and former chief justice of Delhi High Court A P Shah, has strongly indicted the apex court in its handling of the NRC issue in Assam.
“The Supreme Court has erroneously equated migration with external aggression and dehumanised migrants,” the jury observed after a two-day public hearing on the updation of NRC.
“Despite the scale of the exercise, the judiciary’s insistence on setting deadlines has increased the pressure on both the process and the people involved,” the jury added.
The People’s Tribunal, a public hearing on “Constitutional processes and human cost”, was organised by civil society groups on Saturday and Sunday. The jury heard individual testimonies of people from Assam participating in the process of updating the NRC and legal experts, including advocates Aman Wadud, Gautam Bhatia, Vrinda Grover and Mihir Desai.
The jury emphasised that citizenship is the “right to have rights, is one of the most basic, fundamental human rights in modern societies”.
“The fear of getting excluded from the NRC, being declared as foreigner and finally being sent to detention centre, has created a situation of permanent paranoia among the vulnerable communities, especially Bengal-origin Assamese Muslim and Bengali Hindus living in the state of Assam,” the jury said.
Besides Justices Lokur, Joseph and Shah, the tribunal jury comprises Prof Faizan Mustafa, vice-chancellor of NALSAR University of Law; Syeda Hamid, former member of Planning Commission; Deb Mukherjee, former ambassador to Bangladesh; Gita Hariharan, founder-member of Indian Writers’ Forum and Prof Monirul Hussain, Chair Professor at the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research at Jamia Millia Islamia.