Assam breathes easy after SC ruling on NRC, but security forces to stay alert
A two-judge SC bench allowed certificates issued by secretaries of Gaon Panchayats as admissible documents for claiming citizenship, giving respite to nearly 29 lakh people who were on the verge of being excluded from the NRC.india Updated: Dec 07, 2017 13:50 IST
The Supreme Court’s recent ruling that certificates issued by panchayat secretary or an executive magistrate can be used for claiming citizenship has eased the simmering tension over publication of an updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
Setting aside a Gauhati high court order issued in February, a two-judge SC bench on Tuesday allowed certificates issued by secretaries of Gaon Panchayats (GPs) as admissible documents for claiming citizenship “if issued after conducting proper enquiries”.
In a separate judgement, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman stated that the issue of ‘original inhabitant’ (OI) can’t be linked to the process of updating NRC.
In its order, the HC had ruled that certificates issued by GPs were not admissible as proof of citizenship.
Updating of NRC in Assam, which last took place in 1951, to distinguish Indian citizens from illegal immigrants, had led to lot of apprehension and anger following the HC order.
The move affected nearly 29 lakh people, most of them women, who had submitted those documents to the NRC.
This had led to fear among these applicants, most of who belong to the minority community, about whether their names would get excluded from the updated NRC.
Threats and speculations of violence by those left out of the NRC, the first draft of which is to be released by the end of this month, had led the Assam government to seek additional security forces from the Centre.
Though the names of those who had submitted GP certificates won’t get included in the first draft (as their certificates have to be verified as genuine), the SC order has been welcomed by most organizations across the spectrum.
The All Assam Minority Students Union stated that the SC verdict would remove apprehension of lakhs of women who were worried about getting left out of the updated NRC.
All Assam Students Union (AASU), the state’s biggest student body, and 28 organisations of indigenous communities of the state also expressed hope that the SC verdict would help detect ‘illegal citizens’.
“The SC ruling has stated that certificates issued by GPs would be admissible only after proper verification and it should be corroborated with other valid identity proofs. This would identify those who had sought to be included in the NRC based on fake or forged documents,” said an AASU leader.
Opposition Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) termed the SC ruling as historic and far-sighted.
“The SC order is historic. It would help find a solution to the long pending issue illegal immigrants in the state,” state Congress president Ripun Bora said.
A senior police official stated on condition of anonymity that though the possibility of violence has eased after the SC ruling, security forces would be on the alert to prevent any eventuality.