The Supreme Court Thursday said it would not interfere with the revelation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) data in the Assam state Assembly. “Our actions and decisions are discussed every moment. We don’t think it’s worth our time…What we want is NRC out in scheduled time,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R F Nariman said.
The court’s statement comes after the Assam government, earlier this month, had revealed district-wise data regarding exclusion from draft NRC, published last year to the state Assembly. The final NRC is scheduled to be published on August 31.
This action of the state government had gone against the apex court’s last year order, on August 16, when the bench had asked NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela “to file in Court, in a sealed cover, the percentage of the population in each district (district-wise) who have been left out of the final draft NRC.”
The bench said it was not bothered about what was being said about the NRC exercise. “Our orders, our actions are being subjected to debates and criticism every moment. We are not bothered by it. If we will go into all this, we will never complete the task,” it added, PTI reported.
“What we want is that let the NRC come out within the deadline of August 31. Who like it, who do not like it, we do not bother,” the bench said.
Earlier, the state government had said that in districts close to the Bangladesh border — where the share of Muslims in the population is high — the exclusion percentage was lower, while in other districts it was comparatively higher. The government used this data to argue that the NRC process was flawed and several BJP MLAs slammed the court-mandated coordinator Prateek Hajela.
The state Congress had said it would write to Supreme Court — which monitors the NRC update process — that step was in contempt of the apex court.
Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia said, “I will write to the Supreme Court to draw their attention that the state government has committed contempt by sharing the data in the Assembly. If you refer to the SC judgment dated September 19, you will see the court had categorically asked for such data to be not shared because of its sensitive nature.”
During the last court hearing in July, the apex court agreed to Hajela’s request to extend the deadline from July 31 to August 1 in light of the recent floods that ravaged Assam. He had also sought time for his officials to write out the final orders.
The Assam government and the Centre had requested an extension to carry out a sample re-verification of 20 per cent names in the districts bordering Bangladesh, and a 10 per cent re-verification in the remaining districts.
However, the court declined the government’s plea for re-verification and provided a month-long window to carry out quality checks and tie-up loose ends before the final NRC is published.
The NRC is a Supreme Court-monitored exercise that has been four years in the making and has had multiple deadline extensions. Ahead of the August 31, 2019 date, two drafts (a partial and a complete) were published on January 1, 2018, and July 30, 2018, respectively. The final draft from last year excluded names of 40.7 lakh of the 3.29 crore applicants who had applied.