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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Assam NRC chief moves Supreme Court for relook at 2019 ‘draft’ list

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who took charge on Monday, had earlier this week said, “Regarding the NRC, our position is very clear. In border districts, we want a re-examination of 20% names included, and in other districts, that of 10% names.”

Written by Abhishek Saha | Guwahati |
Updated: May 14, 2021 4:58:26 am
NRC state coordinator Sarma has argued in his application that there were multiple anomalies in the publication, which has led to ineligible persons being included in the list.

The state coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Hitesh Sarma, has filed an appeal in Supreme Court, urging the apex court to pass appropriate directions for a “complete, comprehensive and time-bound re-verification” of the NRC published in 2019.

The demand is in line with the BJP-led state government’s position.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who took charge on Monday, had earlier this week said, “Regarding the NRC, our position is very clear. In border districts, we want a re-examination of 20% names included, and in other districts, that of 10% names.”

The party’s manifesto for Assembly polls had stated, “We will initiate the process of the correction and reconciliation of entries under the Supreme Court-mandated National Register of Citizens in a structured manner to protect genuine Indian citizens and exclude all illegal immigrants.”

NRC state coordinator Sarma has argued in his application that there were multiple anomalies in the publication, which has led to ineligible persons being included in the list.

He stated in the application: “…several serious, fundamental and substantial errors have crept into the process of updating NRC in Assam. This has vitiated the entire exercise and the present draft and supplementary list for inclusion and exclusion of NRC that has been published is not free from errors. Thus, the draft NRC needs to be revisited by ordering a comprehensive and time bound re-verification of the same.”

Sarma has appealed to the apex court that the re-verification is done under the supervision of a monitoring committee in respective districts. He suggested that the committee may be represented by the district judge, district magistrate and police chief concerned.

The NRC, published in August 2019 under direct supervision of the Supreme Court, excluded around 19 lakh people from around 3.3 crore applicants. But NRC authorities have not yet been issued rejection orders, with which they can appeal against the exclusion at the state’s Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs).

The FTs will then decide whether the person concerned is a foreigner or an Indian citizen, keeping the citizenship status of over 19 lakh people in a limbo.

“The present job under updation of NRC is to issue rejection slips to the claimants whose claims were rejected during the claims and objections period to facilitate them to file appeal before the Foreigners Tribunals,” Sarma stated in his interlocutory application filed before SC on May 8. “With profound respect, the applicant considers it as his bounden and sacred duty to apply his mind into the whole process instead of doing it mechanically from the stage where his predecessor had left,”

Sarma has stated that the NRC published in 2019 was not ‘final’. “The final NRC is yet to be published by the RGI [Registrar General of India] till date…. The rejection slips will be issued against proper rejection orders after the final publication NRC,” the petition said.

Sarma further states that the anomalies were communicated to the RGI “several times”, “but no decision has been taken by the RGI on the matter”.

The development comes after the RGI wrote to the Assam government in March, stating that funds allocated for preparation of the NRC were approved for completion of the exercise until March 31. It had sought clarification on why an additional sanction of Rs 3.22 crore per month beyond the date of March 31 is needed.

The letter had noted that the process to issue rejections slips had not started.

In an affidavit filed in Gauhati High Court in December last year, Hitesh Sarma had said that the NRC published in August 2019 was a “Supplementary NRC” and that the RGI is silent on the publication of “Final NRC” — that it is “yet to be published”.

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