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India NRC: Assam govt to provide free legal aid to...

NRC: Assam govt to provide free legal aid to the excluded if…

The State government will make necessary arrangements to provide legal aid to the needy people amongst those excluded from NRC

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Guwahati: Assam government will make necessary arrangements to provide free legal aid to those excluded from the final list of NRC to be published on 31 August, provided they are needy, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Persons left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will not be detained under any circumstances until foreigners tribunals (FTs) declare them as foreigners, Assam’s Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Political department) Kumar Sanjay Krishna said in a statement on Tuesday. The State government will make necessary arrangements to provide legal aid to the needy people amongst those excluded from NRC, by providing all assistance through the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA),” he said.

Under the provisions of the Foreigners’ Act, 1946 and Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, only foreigners tribunals are empowered to declare a person foreigner. “Therefore, non-inclusion of a person’s name in NRC does not by itself amount to him/her being declared as a foreigner,” the statement said.

For the benefit of those whose names do not appear in the final NRC, appeals can be made as per Section 8 of Schedule to the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. The Centre has extended the time limit for filing of appeals from 60 days to 120 days and necessary amendment in this regard has been made in the Foreigners’ (Tribunals) Amendment Order, 2019.

Two hundred foreigners tribunals are being set up shortly for hearing the appeals filed in the designated foreigners’ tribunals, which will be notified by the State government very soon, the statement said. Another 200 foreigners tribunals will be set up soon and effort is being made to establish them at convenient places so that filing and hearing of appeals are done smoothly and efficiently, he said. The process of updating of the NRC is being carried out by the Registrar General of India and the entire process is under the direct monitoring of the Supreme Court.

The final NRC, unique to Assam, will be published on 31 August. The previous NRC was published in the State in 1951. When the draft NRC was published on 30 July 2018, there was a huge controversy over the exclusion of 40.7 lakh people from it. The draft NRC included the names of 2.9 crore people out of the total 3.29 crore applications. In the list published in June 2019, over 1 lakh more people were excluded. The Supreme Court-monitored NRC exercise, aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in the State that borders Bangladesh, was carried out in Assam, which faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century.

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