August 3, 2018 3:09:29 am
The draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has left out more than 40 lakh individuals and while their fate is yet to be decided, Registrar General of India Sailesh is finalising the modalities for claims and objections that will be rolled out from August 30. A 1985-batch IAS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, he served as Home Secretary to the Assam government when the process of NRC began in 2013. Sailesh, who took over as the RGI in 2016 and has been involved in updation of the NRC, spoke to The Indian Express. Excerpts from the interview:
How do you explain the problem in the draft NRC where one of the family members is in the list and another is not?
NRC is about the list of inclusion. We have only reached the stage of draft. People whose claims could not be substantiated through document or other evidence, we have established their eligibility for inclusion in the draft. Wherever it could not be satisfied, they cannot be included. Each case was examined separately. Certain documents are common which are legacy documents. But linkage document is distinct for each person. It is possible within a family that somebody’s document could not give conclusive satisfaction to the registering authority and that is why their name is not there. But that does not mean that it is the final result. Because, as per the law, there are provisions of claims and objections… There were 3.29 crore applicants who submitted 6.6 crore documents. Thereafter extensive verification has taken place for each and every applicant. The level of verification varies. We came out with the part (first) draft of 1.90 crore and it was released on the directions of the SC.
Over 40 lakh people are left out of the NRC. What could be the margin of error in such a mammoth exercise?
There was some element of human error in the first draft and we brought this to the notice of the Supreme Court… There were certain cases which were part of the first draft but subsequent verification threw new evidence for exclusion of such persons because matching of the family tree revealed that the person claiming legacy were wrong. And those who were wrong but were found to be right were included. Also, certain typographical errors were also noticed at the time of data entry. These were lessons because quality control did not existed at the time of first draft. This time, there was quality control time period given by the court due to which such errors were addressed… If there is an exclusion from the draft list due to an error, it will automatically get corrected.
Can any person/group raise objections against those left out of the NRC draft rolls when they apply for claims in the next stage?
Yes, the law provides for both – claims and objections. The process we are starting from August 30 will be for the people who do not find their names. They will have to file the claims. But if somebody has sufficient grounds that some wrong name has been entered, there is a provision to make objections. When somebody is making the objections, we will try to obtain the identity of the person… because the person making the objections has to substantiate.
Express Explained | What it means to be out of NRC
How will the process of claims and objections be different from the first process. Will you be accepting the same set of documents provided at the time of NRC?
We have to give reasonable opportunities for filing of claims and objections. Opportunities means reasonable time. On June 30, the SC had directed the home ministry to prepare a standard operating procedure for the modalities… It has to be fair and credible and provide reasonable opportunity… The SOP will delve on what kind of mechanism will be there. When a notice is issued, we will have to give reasonable time. The person (who is not in the draft list) will have to prepare himself and may have to bring some people. The hearing cannot be a summary hearing. The person may have to be given a couple of chances for hearing. We are providing the facility at NRC Seva Kendra in every cluster of five to seven villages. This facility is available from August 7 to every person who left out of the draft. They can go to the NRC centre and submit a short form. The concerned local registrar will record the primary reason for his non-inclusion.
You are from Assam cadre. How much was this to your advantage and disadvantage?
I joined (IAS) in Assam in 1986, a year after the Assam Accord was signed. I have not experienced the Assam agitation. From 1979-85, I was a student at Delhi School of Economics and was then teaching at the Delhi University… Having worked in the state, I knew the senstitvity attached with the subject… I have worked in tribal, non-tribal and border areas. That experience gave me a great snapshot. Accidentally, when this exercise was to begin in 2013, I was the home secretary of Assam and represented the Government of Assam before the SC. It has come to a full circle when as an RGI I am completing this from the Central government’s side. Last two years were the most important when the verification for NRC was undertaken… There was complete undertanding between me and Prateek (Hajela) in steering it. Being from the same cadre was a great facilitator.
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