Those who are not included in the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam will get 120 days to appeal against their exclusion, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Tuesday. To ensure this, the ministry will bring about an amendment in the NRC rules which stipulate only 60 days for an appeal to be made in the Foreigners’ Tribunal.
The final NRC will be published on August 31.
“As it may not be possible for all those excluded from final NRC to file the appeal within the prescribed time, MHA will amend the rules to increase the present time limit of filing of appeals in FTs from 60 days to 120 days regarding exclusion from final NRC. The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 are also being amended accordingly,” an MHA statement said.
Those who cannot afford legal services would also be provided legal help by the state government, the MHA said.
To allay fears, the ministry also sought to assure the people that exclusion would not amount to a person being declared a foreigner as that can only be done by a Foreigners’ Tribunal. “Every individual, whose name does not figure in the final NRC, can represent his/her case in front of the appellate authority i.e. Foreigners Tribunals. Under the provisions of Foreigners Act 1946 and Foreigners (Tribunals) Order 1964, only Foreigners Tribunals are empowered to declare a person as a foreigner. Thus, non-inclusion of a person’s name in NRC does not by itself amount to him/her being declared as a foreigner,” the MHA said.
Officials said those excluded would be given ample opportunity to prove their citizenship and the ministry would provide all facilities to ensure this. “In order to facilitate the persons excluded from NRC, adequate number of such tribunals is being established at convenient locations. It has been decided that state government would also make arrangements to provide legal aid to the needy people among those excluded from NRC,” the MHA statement said.
Home Minister Amit Shah had on Monday reviewed issues related to final publication of the NRC. The review meeting was attended by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Home Secretary Rajeev Gauba and other bureaucrats from Assam and Central government. Extensive deliberations have been held on the issue between the MHA and the state government of Assam in recent weeks.
Following the meeting on Monday, Sonowal had said that the government could also bring in legislation on NRC following its publication. In order to maintain law and order situation, central security forces are being provided as per assessment of the state government, the MHA said.
In the draft NRC published earlier, more than 40 lakh people had been excluded.