SC extends Assam NRC deadline; rejects plea for 20% sample re-verification

Satya Prakash
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 23

The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended to August 31 the deadline for publication of final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam after the Centre, state government, and NRC Coordinator said more time was needed to publish the final list.

Earlier, the deadline fixed by the Supreme Court for publication of final NRC in Assam was July 31, 2019.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, however, rejected the arguments of Attorney General KK Venugopal for the Centre and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for Assam Government to allow conducting 20 per cent sample re-verification of the draft NRC published on July 30 last year in districts bordering Bangladesh where high incidents of illegal migration had been reported.

The Final Draft NRC list was published on July 30 last year in which 2.89 crore names out of the 3.29 crore people were included while 40,70,707 people failed to make it to the list. Of those left out 37,59,630 names had been rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 were put on hold.

A massive exercise with regard to claims and objections has been ongoing since under the supervision of the top court to decide the fate of those left out or wrongly included and the top court has fixed July 31 for publication of final NRC in Assam.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had last week requested the top court to extend the July 31 deadline but the Bench was then non-committal. “We will see,” it had told Mehta.

The court extended the deadline by a month after NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela said by July 31 he would be in a position to publish a supplementary list of inclusions and exclusions in the NRC. Hajela said due to floods many officials had to be deployed in flood relief duties and that the preparation of final draft would require more time as voluminous data had to be analysed.

But the court didn’t accede to the demand for 20 per cent sample re-verification of draft NRC in districts bordering B’desh.

Earlier, the Assam Government had submitted that such an exercise was essential in view of allegations of bribery playing a key role in the inclusion of several names despite such persons being declared as illegal foreigners by the designated tribunals.

It had pointed out that on August 28, the top court had said: “We are of the view that the court should consider the necessity of carrying out the sample re-verification of at least 10 per cent of the names included in the final draft NRC, if required”.

Though the top court did not pass any subsequent orders for re-verification, it was necessary to weed out illegal migrants as otherwise the final NRC which would be a futile exercise.

Recently instances of asking of bribe by NRC officials for inclusion of names in final NRC have also come to light, the state had said, adding there had been media reports about wrong exclusion of indigenous people from the final draft NRC.

 

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