Updated: August 9, 2019 4:24:59 am
The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to be drawn into a debate on revelation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) data in Assam state Assembly and said it will pass orders on a plea challenging non-inclusion of those born in India to migrants between 1971 and 1987 in the Register unless they have ancestral links to the country.
“We don’t think we will get into that. As far as judges are concerned…our actions and decisions are being discussed every moment. If we bother about it, we will have time only for that. We are not going to do anything on what happened inside the Assembly…. We don’t think it’s worth our time. What we want is the NRC out within scheduled time irrespective of who likes or who doesn’t,” Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi told state NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela, who brought to its notice statements by some political leaders on the NRC updation process.
The bench told Hajela that it will “pass orders” on his plea regarding maintaining secrecy of NRC data.
Appearing for some applicants whose names were not being included in the NRC, senior counsel Kapil Sibal referred to Section 3(1) of Citizenship Act, which says every person born in India after January 26, 1950, and up to July 1, 1987, were citizens of India by birth. But for the NRC updation process, a different yardstick was being used for those born between 1971 and 1987, he said.
The bench, also comprising Justice R F Nariman, asked Hajela why they should not be included. Hajela replied that for NRC updation, ancestry was also being taken into account for those born between 1971 and 1987 in view of the relevant provisions in Citizenship Rules, 2003.
On this, the bench wondered how a different approach could be adopted for those born between 1971 and 1987 when those born before 1971 and after 1987 were not subject to it.
The court asked him to submit his contentions in the form of a note which it will peruse and pass orders on how to go about the updation.
A petitioner who has challenged Section 3(A) of the Act in a separate plea, meanwhile, pointed out that the different approach was on account of Section 6(A) of the Act, which applies to those covered by the Assam Accord and fixes the cut-off date for grant of citizenship as March 25, 1971.
The petitioner said his plea has been referred to a Constitution bench and urged the court to issue directions to the Director of Census Operations, Assam, “not to entertain any claim of citizenship by birth from persons who are children of illegal migrants from the specified territories in Assam who have migrated after March 25, 1971”, or to maintain a separate list of such cases till the Constitution bench decides his petition.
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