SC may consider re-verification of 10 percent of names included in Assam draft NRC

The Supreme Court termed the issue as a human problem with great magnitude and asked the state NRC coordinator to submit a report in a sealed cover on the ramification of allowing the claimants to file new sets of legacy documents.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2018 22:52 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Assam draft NRC,Supreme Court,National Register of Citizens
People whose name were left out in the National Register of Citizens draft stand in a queue to collect forms to file appeals in Mayong, on August 10. (AP file photo)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its reservations over the proposed standard operating procedure (SOP) suggested by the union government to deal with the claims of four million persons excluded from the National Register for Citizens (NRC) in Assam even as it suggested that the coordinator of the exercise Prateek Hajela explore the possibility of reverifying 10% of the data to ensure it was error-free.

The register was itself mandated by the court as part of an effort to identify illegal migrants in the state.

A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman said the Centre’s decision that claimants can submit “additional admissible legacy and linkage documents” would lead to “undesirable consequences” and could effectively mean restarting the whole process. Justice Gogoi pointed out that a person whose legacy document has been rejected earlier can come back with a fresh claim of legacy, perhaps even showing another person as a grandfather. This could lead to anomalous situation as the entire “family tree” would be changed by a person if he is allowed to file additional documents, Justice Gogoi remarked.

The court also asked Hajela to file in a sealed cover by September 4, a note on the possible ramifications if the Centre’s SOP is followed. The bench indicated that the process of filing claims and objections will commence from September 7 instead of August 30.

Hajela was also asked to look into the possibility of reverifying 10% of NRC data, district-wise, by an independent team to satisfy itself that no error has “crept into the draft.” The court took on record the data filed before it by Hajela on the district-wise percentage of people left out of NRC exercise. The court suggested that the reverification could be carried out in a district by people manning NRC Seva Kendras. The bench said it would like Hajela to let it know that, if possible, when such an exercise could be started and how long it would take.

Former Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said: “Proper verification should be done in all those districts which have seen unusual growth in population against the national average. NRC revision should be done to ensure foreigners are deleted and genuine Indian citizens who have been left out are included.’

Samujjal Bhattacharya, advisor to All Assam Students Union, which led the Assam Agitation, said the SC order will ensure corrections in NRC. “At least 10 lakh Bangladeshis have entered the NRC draft,” said Palash Changmai, general secretary of Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad, another student’s body, who wanted that the people should be allowed to give new legacy documents for their citizenship claim.

“Re verification of 10 percent people is a big exercise. Ideally verification should only be done of those people against whom complaints have been filed,” said Aminul Islam, the General Secretary of All India United Democratic Front.

First Published: Aug 28, 2018 21:48 IST