Deadline for appeal against NRC non-inclusion extended

Deadline for appeal against NRC non-inclusion extended

 People wait to check their names on the draft list at the National Register of Citizens (NRC) centre at a village in Nagaon district, Assam. (Reuters Photo)

People in Assam who find their names excluded in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to be published on August 31 will have 120 days instead of 60 days to file their appeals in Foreigner Tribunal.

The Ministry of Affairs (MHA) will amend the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. A decision to this effect was taken at a review meeting chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah here on Monday, as it was felt that it may not be possible for all those excluded from final NRC to file the appeal within the prescribed time.

An official statement also made it clear that non-inclusion of a person's name in the NRC does not by itself mean he or she was declared as a foreigner as only a Foreigner Tribunal can do so.

The review meeting was attended by Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and senior officials of the MHA and Assam government. Sonowal had earlier indicated that the government may explore legislative options to deal with the wrongful inclusion of some names in the NRC after its final publication.

According to the statement, adequate arrangements will be made by the state government to people who are excluded from NRC to provide full opportunity to appeal against their non-inclusion.

"Every individual, whose name does not figure in the final NRC, can represent his/her case in front of the appellate authority i.e. Foreigner Tribunals. Under the provisions of Foreigners Act 1946 and Foreigners (Tribunals) Order 1964, only Foreigners Tribunals are empowered to declare a person as a foreigner. Thus, non-inclusion of a person’s name in NRC does not by itself amount to him/her being declared as a foreigner," it said.

The state government would also make arrangements to provide legal aid to the needy people amongst those excluded from NRC.

Last month, the Supreme Court had rejected the central and Assam governments' plea for sample re-verification to find out wrongful inclusions of names. This has prompted the government to mull legislative options to deal with the situation, which was indicated by Sonowal.