Exclusion from NRC list will not affect voting rights, says Election Commission
The Election Commission on Tuesday assured the Supreme Court that the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), published on July 30 last year, will not be the basis to deny residents voting rights.
The first draft of the NRC, aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in Assam, did not include names of around 40 lakh people out of a total of 3.29 crore applicants.
Appearing on behalf of ECI, senior advocate Vikas Singh made the submission before a bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi that was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a social activist who alleged that the poll panel had deprived voting rights to those whose names were missing in the draft NRC published on July 30.
The bench asked the EC to clarify what action it will take if a person’s name is not included in the final NRC, to be published on July 31 this year, but features in the electoral rolls. The court even asked the commission to place before it voters’ list as revised in January for 2017, 2018 and 2019 and also inform the court the basis on which the updation was done. “We are not bothered about the elections,” the CJI told the petitioner’s lawyer who requested the bench to expedite its decision on the matter in view of impending Lok Sabha polls.
The ECI secretary, who was present subsequent to court’s order last week, told the bench that exclusion from the draft list will have no bearing on the voting rights of individuals. He said so in response to the court’s query.
Singh later clarified that ECI had made its position clear over the NRC list in 2014 itself. He accused the petitioners for making false claims before the court. He said the names of two petitioners, who are residents of Assam, were never deleted from the electoral rolls in the past three years.
The bench will further hear the matter on March 28.