Reiterating the July 31 deadline for publication of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam, the Supreme Court Wednesday said State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela was “free to deal with all incidental issues, that may arise, in his wise discretion and in accordance with law”.
A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R F Nariman, which perused a report submitted by Hajela, said: “On our consideration of the report and after interacting with Mr Hajela, all that would be required to be recorded is that the process of preparation of the final NRC shall continue to ensure that the publication of the final NRC is made on or before 31.7.2019. The State Coordinator is free to deal with all incidental issues, that may arise, in his wise discretion and in accordance with law.”
In January this year, Hajela had informed the court that the process of filing fresh claims for inclusion in the final NRC and objections against names appearing in the draft NRC published on July 30, 2018 had concluded on December 31, 2018 and “about 36.2 lakh claims and about 2 lakh objections” had been filed.
On Wednesday, Hajela told the bench that though many people had filed objections, they had not come forward. He asked the bench if he could pass orders in such cases.
“Whatever you want to do, do it by July 31. Maybe a day earlier, but not a day later… Exercise your discretion, keep the law in mind,” the CJI replied.
Hajela then asked if he could share the data with the state government, which had asked for it. The bench told him he was free to do so.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the state government, said they had sought the data “for good reasons”.While fixing the next hearing for July 10, the bench said Hajela could mention the matter before the Registrar Judicial-I or Registrar Judicial-II on any day during the summer vacation, if urgent orders were required in the case. The court is closed for summer recess from May 11 to June 31, when there will be a vacation bench to deal with urgent matters.
Of the state’s 3.29 crore population, the draft NRC had included 2.89 crore people.
The court had earlier allowed those who wanted to file fresh claims for inclusion of their names to rely on any of the 10 documents suggested by Hajela. These included land documents, permanent residential certificate issued from outside the state, passport, Life Insurance Corporation of India insurance policy, any licence or certificate issued by any government authority, document showing service or employment under government or public sector undertaking, bank or post office accounts, birth certificates issued by the competent authority, educational certificate issued by boards or universities and records or processes pertaining to court provided they are part of a processing in a judicial or revenue court.
Later, it also allowed them to rely on the 1951 NRC, electoral roll up to March 24, 1971, citizenship certificate and refugee registration certificate, certified copies of pre-1971 electoral roll, particularly those issued from Tripura, and ration card.