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Saturday, Nov 16, 2019

‘Can’t be world’s refugee capital’: Centre asks SC to extend Assam citizens list deadline

The Centre has asked the Supreme Court to extend the 31 July deadline for publishing the final list of the National Register of Citizens for Assam

india Updated: Jul 19, 2019 11:17 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
(REUTERS)
         

The NDA government on Friday asked the Supreme Court to extend the 31 July deadline for the Assam citizens list, insisting that it needed to tweak the processes for inclusion of names in the list. The Centre said lakhs of illegal immigrants had crept and many citizens left out in the list that had been prepared so far. The illegal immigrants needed to be purged from the list, Tushar Mehra, the central government’s second most-senior law officer told the top court.

“India cannot be the world’s refugee capital of the world,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said.

Mehta suggested that a massive re-verification exercise needed to be carried out of 20 per cent districts bordering Bangladesh, India’s neighbour that is the source of the largest proportion of illegal immigrants to the country.

The Centre’s senior law officer acknowledged that many of the wrong inclusions of illegal immigrants could be attributed to collusion with local officials mandated to update the national register of citizens.

“Many of the inclusions and exclusions are wrong…. The quantum of people involved would be in lakhs and so, more time is needed to re-verify it,” Mehta said.

The Supreme Court, which also heard Prateek Hajela, Assam’s coordinator for the national register of citizens, has not given its ruling on the request. The judges will continue the hearing on Tuesday.

Prateek Hajela also backed the Centre on its request for more time but underlined that around 80 lakh people were automatically re-verified during sample verification of the family tree. This, he said, amounted to around 27 per cent re-verification of claims. The assertion prompted the Supreme Court to wonder aloud if there really was a need for re-verification of names as sought by the Centre.

Hajela said he would need about a month to publish the final list but would be able to come out with a supplementary list on July 31 with lists of fresh inclusions and exclusions.

The names of 40 lakh of the 3.23 crore applicants had been excluded from the complete draft NRC released last year. Monitored by the Supreme Court, the NRC is being updated in Assam with the intention of weeding out illegal immigrants.