With more than 40 lakh people in Assam excluded from the draft
National Register of Citizens, the Centre has decided to extend assistance to the state government in setting up 1,000 tribunals where people can contest their exclusion. These tribunals have to be set up after the NRC is published on July 31, but the efforts are stymied by paucity of legal staff.
Sources said that B R Sharma, Secretary (Border Management) in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), recently held a meeting to discuss Assam government’s proposal for creation of e-Foreigners Tribunals and creation of 1,000 additional Foreigners Tribunals.
The Centre is also in the process of giving its approval to the state government’s proposal to set up e-Foreigners Tribunals for those who were declared illegal immigrants, an official said.
When the draft NRC was published on July 30, 2018, there was a huge controversy over the exclusion of 40.7 lakh people, with the draft including 2.9 crore names of the total 3.29 crore applications.
The MHA decision comes after the Supreme Court recently questioned the state government’s plan to set up 1,000 Foreigners’ Tribunals, pointing out that it would be difficult to find 1,000 legal officers to preside over them.
The state government, along with the MHA and agencies, has been tasked to identify retired judicial officers for the purpose. The tribunals will require nearly 12,000 personnel, including judicial officers.
The new tribunals would ease the burden of 100 existing tribunals as cases of those languishing in detention centre will be disposed of faster.
Some 30 lakh of the 40.7 lakh people left out of the draft NRC filed for inclusion of their names. Around 600 objections were submitted by individuals who suspect the citizenship of others who made it to the list.
The Supreme Court, which is monitoring the NRC update process, has made it clear that the final NRC has to be published on July 31, 2019.
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