December 6, 2021

NRC | Supreme Court firm on Aug 31 deadline

The Supreme Court on Thursday brushed aside criticism and statements made in the Assam Assembly and outside relating to the exercise carried out for National Register of Citizens (NRC) and said it wanted the deadline of August 31 be adhered to.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice RF Nariman referred to the report of Assam NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela in which he mentioned about leakage of information on it in Assam Assembly and certain statements made by leader of opposition there and Santanu Bharali, legal advisor to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
The bench, which is monitoring the Assam NRC exercise, said it was not concerned with any of such statements and was only looking at the entire exercise of NRC being completed within the deadline of August 31.

“You (Hajela) have drawn our attention about the statement made by the leader of opposition regarding revealing of information in the Assembly and also about press statement by Santanu Bharali on the issue of secrecy of the data,” the bench said.

“As far as the statement of the leader of opposition is concerned, we do not need to go into it. When some orders are being passed by the judges or the court, some people criticise them,” the apex court said.

“Our orders, our actions are being subjected to debates and criticism every moment. We are not bothered by it. If we will go into all this, we will never complete the task,” it added.

The top court said it was not bothered about what was being said about the NRC exercise.

“What we want is that let the NRC come out within the deadline of August 31. Who like it, who do not like it, we do not bother,” the bench said.

At the outset, the bench interacted with NRC Coordinator and told him that perhaps, he is seeking suggestion for maintaining the secrecy of the data collected during the exercise.

During the hearing, the apex court was told that around 33,000 people coming from an area in Kamrup district have to be verified after it was noted that there have been complaints of inadequacy in issuing notices.

The bench also deliberated on provisions of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003 which have been applied for considering the individuals under the NRC.

The bench said it will pass an order as to whether the inclusion will be based on section 3 (1)(a), 3(1)(b) and section 3 (1)(c) of the Act after receiving a note from Hajela. – PTI

Our Spl Correspondent adds: Salman Khurshid who represented Assam Congress said, “We had two critical issues including one relating to about 30,000 people from a particular area where re-verification is to be done. Supreme Court indicated to Hajela that they should be a little flexible in the matter because of the long distance to be covered.

The other important factor is about people who were born as Indian citizens as per Citizenship Act and by interpretation of NRC rule they may not be included. But Court gave an indication that you can’t do away with citizenship by birth and final order still to come next Tuesday.”

All Assam Students Union (AASU) advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said that they are opposed to the application filed by the Assam Government and made it clear that as per Assam Accord illegal migrants who came to Assam after March 24, 1971 should not be included in NRC.

“We hope that the Supreme Court will give justice in this regard. Supreme Court has clearly stated that the final NRC will have to be published on or before August 31,” he said.

President of Assam Public Works Aabhijeet Sharma, who is the main petitioner, said that they have been demanding 100 per cent re-verification but the NRC Coordinator has said that he has undertaken 27 per cent re-verification. “We want re-verification to ensure that not a single Bangladeshi is included in the NRC. When verification process is already over why thousands of people are being called again for re-verification?” he asked.

State Opposition leader Debabrata Saikia welcomed the Supreme Court’s direction that the final NRC should be published on or before August 31. A direction will also be given about those people who were born before IM(DT) Act verdict. Hajela has been asked to submit a report in this regard before Tuesday

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