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Monday 27 January 2020

NRC: Centre, Assam seek in SC extension of deadline

Supreme Court extension of the 31 July deadline for finalisation of the NRC and said India could not be the refugee capital of the world.

New Delhi: Alleging wrongful inclusions and exclusions in the National Register of Citizens, the Centre and the Assam government on Friday sought from the Supreme Court extension of the 31 July deadline for finalisation of the NRC and said India could not be the refugee capital of the world.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice RF Nariman took note of the submission of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the State government, that they are allowed to undertake verification of 20% random samples of citizens for wrongful inclusions or exclusions in the NRC.

The court, which had fixed 31 July as the deadline for publication of the final list of the NRC, has now fixed the applications of both the governments for deliberation on 23 July on the issue of proposed sample survey.

“Please extend the deadline for publication of final Assam NRC from 31 July to a future date. There is a growing perception that many exclusions and many more inclusions have been made wrongly,” the solicitor general said. “India cannot be the refugee capital of the world,” he said, adding there was a need to re-look the draft NRC list through sample verification.

Mehta further said that due to the involvement of local officers lakhs of people were wrongly included in the NRC in districts bordering Bangladesh.

Both the governments moved the apex court on 17 July seeking a direction for 20% sample re-verification of names included in the final NRC draft in the districts of Assam bordering Bangladesh and 10% sample re-verification of names included in the final draft in the remaining districts.

The Centre’s plea has also sought to suitably modify the timeline fixed for publication of the final list of NRC from 31 July to a future date.

It has also sought a direction that such re-verification exercise to be conducted by Class I officers of the State government from other districts who have knowledge and experience of handling the process of enquiry/investigation.

The pleas have also sought a direction to fix the venue of the sample re-verification at a place which was not in the vicinity of the initial NRC verification to rule out the possibility of local influences, bias and threat.

It claimed that names of Indian citizens were excluded and illegal Bangladeshi migrants were included in the draft.

It also referred to the apex court’s 2018 order by which it had said it could consider a re-verification of 10% of the people who were included in the draft NRC.

The top court had termed the issue as “human problem with great magnitude” and asked the State NRC coordinator to submit a report in a sealed cover on the ramification of allowing the claimants to file new sets of legacy documents.

The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published on the intervening night of 31 December 2017, and 1 January 2018 in accordance with the top court’s direction. Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated then.

Assam, which had faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only State having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.

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