Doubtful or ‘D’ voters are a category of voters in Assam whose citizenship is uncertain or under dispute. In 1997, the EC had introduced this at the time of revising the state’s voter list.
While ‘D’ voters continue to remain on Assam’s electoral roll, they cannot vote in an election unless their case is decided by a Foreigners’ Tribunal. Around 1.2 lakh ‘D’ voters did not participate in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. However, those excluded from the draft NRC were allowed to vote.
EC relief to all
The Election Commission’s decision is a win-win for all. From the BJP government that pushed NRC to civil society groups which opposed it, the 19.06 lakh number (of exclusion) has pleased few. BJP sees the number as small and believes many genuine citizens were excluded. The party has been demanding a re-verification.
The final NRC, published on August 30, had included 3.11 crore applicants as citizens and excluded 19 lakh. After publication, the Commission faced the legal question of whether non-inclusion makes a person’s citizenship doubtful and if she should be marked as ‘Doubtful’ till her citizenship is decided by the Foreigners’ Tribunal.
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It’s not clear how many out of the 19 lakh are currently registered as voters in Assam. Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior EC official said, “The Home Ministry’s clarification leaves little room for debate. There will be no suo motu deletion from the electoral roll based on the final NRC. Also, those excluded will not be marked as ‘D’ voters.”
On August 20, the Home Ministry had clarified that “non-inclusion of a person’s name in NRC does not by itself amount to him/her being declared as a foreigner”.