NRC: Ensure fair procedure adopted
The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Assam’s coordinator for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to ensure that a fair procedure is adopted in dealing with the claims and objections filed by those excluded from the list, currently being updated to weed out illegal immigrants.
The court’s advice comes a day after media reported on the plight of a retired Indian Army subedar who has been declared a foreigner by a tribunal in Assam. His name reportedly did not figure in the draft NRC published on July 30, 2018 in which names of 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore applicants were included.
“Your job is to ensure that hearing on claims and objections are done in a fair and proper manner. There is a deadline and a time frame. Just because there is a time frame that does not mean that your officers will cut short the process to complete it. Merely disposing 70% claims till today is not good unless the disposal is properly done,” a bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi told state coordinator Prateek Hajela. The deadline to publish the final NRC list is July 31. The CJI referred to some “disturbing” media reports highlighting the procedure being followed to deal with claims. “Media is not always correct but sometimes it is right as well,” CJI told Hajela, asking him to instruct his officers to give a proper hearing to claimants.
After going through the progress report filed by Hajela, the bench gave him the liberty to approach the top court’s secretary general for an urgent hearing during vacations, if he faced any difficulty or pressure from anybody. The SC, which is monitoring the NRC update process, also allowed the Assam government to include retired civil servants of the rank of additional secretary or secretary with judicial experience in the process for selection of members to the additional Foreigner Tribunals stipulated to be set up.