SC refuses to modify Dec 31 deadline on Assam citizens' register

SC refuses to modify Dec 31 deadline on Assam citizens' register

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to modify the deadline of December 31, fixed for publication of the draft National Register for Citizens (NRC) for Assam. It rejected a plea by the Union government that the task was an executive function and the court's order would violate the doctrine of separation of powers.

The top court also did not agree to a plea made by Attorney General K K Venugopal that it might create a law and order problem in Assam as scrutiny of two crore people was yet to be completed and a large number of people might feel their names have been excluded from the register.

"It is the sheer inaction on the part of the executive in dragging the matter for a period of over three years and the absence of any justifiable cause to hold back even a partial publication that has led the court to direct publication of the draft NRC on or before December 31, 2017," a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman said.

The court is monitoring compliance of its directions issued in judgement delivered in December, 2014.

Expressing surprise over the AG's plea, the bench also said, "We do not see how a law and order situation can even remotely arise as we have already indicated that the claims of 47 lakh people and 29 lakh people are still pending and would be subject to verification and covered by publication of another draft NRC at a subsequent point of time."

The court also directed Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to interact with authorities to ascertain the action taken on the border fencing front and apprise it of the action taken on February 20.

The NRC coordinator has told the court that there are doubts in the claims of 47 lakh people in respect of their parental linkage. He also submitted cases of 29 lakh people were kept in abeyance as they belonged to the category of married women who submitted certificate from Gram Panchayat secretary.

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