Assam NRC: SC gives 60 days for claims, objections

People shout slogans during a protest against what they say is the draft list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the northeastern state of Assam. Reuters file photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the process of receiving claims and objections by 40 lakh people left out in the National Register for Citizens in Assam to begin from September 25.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman directed that the process would remain open, tentatively, for a period of 60 days. “Keeping in mind the magnitude of the issue, we are permitting the second chance to prove the claim,” the bench said.

The top court, however, said the claims would be accepted on the basis of 10 documents like sale deed, records of land rights, passport, LIC, licence issued up to March 24, 1971. It said the plea made by the Union government, represented by Attorney General K K Venugopal, to accept other documents like names in electoral roll and citizenship certificate and refugee registration certificate etc., would be considered later.

The court also asked Prateek Hajela, NRC coordinator, to offer his suggestions on the acceptability of other documents in view of the changed stand of the Union government.

In the NRC list published on July 30, out of 3.29 crore people, the names of 2.89 crore people were included. The names of 40,70,707 people do not figure in the list. Of these, 37,59,630 names have been rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 are on hold.

As Venugopal questioned the rationality of accepting only 10 documents for claims, the bench said, “We have not shut the door. We are giving second chance. We are restricting the proofs as concerns were expressed about other documents.”

“There are some materials given in the confidential reports which are not in public interest to disclose at the moment, as it may impede the future course of action,” the bench added.

On Venugopal's plea for sharing the confidential report, the bench said, “We are of the view that having regard to the sensitive nature of some of the information contained therein which may affect the entire exercise undertaken and also the exercise that may be required to be undertaken by the court the said report/reports should remain in the custody of the court for the present.”

The court also directed Hajela not to share any information pertaining to the ongoing exercise of updating NRC with any executive, legislative or judicial authority of Assam without permission.

The court issued notices to the Centre and state governments on a plea made by advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of Veer Bahadur Thapa against the exclusion of about 2 lakh Gorkha people and put the matter for further consideration on October 23.

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Assam NRC: SC gives 60 days for claims, objections

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