Assam NRC: Deadline for claims, objections extended till Dec 15
In a major relief to the 4.7 million people left out of the final draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, the Indian Supreme Court has extended the deadline for filing claims and objections of people excluded from the document till December 15.
The top court of India also allowed the people exclude from the NRC draft to use five additional documents, which were objected by the NRC coordinator, to prove their Indian citizenship.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoil and Justice RF Nariman had earlier set a timeline of 60 days from September 25 this year for filing claims and objections regarding exclusion of names from the final draft of NRC.
The bench on Thursday allowed the use of five additional documents, including the voter lists up to March 24, 1971, citizenship certificates, refugee registration certificates and ration cards issued prior to March 24, 1971, to back the claims for inclusion in the final NRC draft and rejected the concerns of forgery and photoshop which NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela had flagged in a his report to the apex court.
Many stakeholders, including Assam government, had demanded the inclusion of all the five documents, besides the ten documents already permitted, to reinforce their claims of citizenship.
Hajela had said in his report to the court that the use of the five additional documents being demanded by some quarters as a "conspiracy" to bring in more immigrants in Assam.
The 10 documents permitted earlier to prove citizenship were land documents, permanent residential certificate issued from outside the state, passport, Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) insurance policy, any licence or certificate issued by any government authority, document showing service or employment under government or Public Sector Undertakings, bank or post office accounts, birth certificates issued by competent authority, educational certificates issued by Boards or Universities, and records or processes pertaining to court provided they are part of a processing in a judicial or revenue court.
The bench, which had earlier put on hold the use of the five additional documents, dismissed Hajela's opposition to them saying "We don't think you are right," and suggested rigorous verification to check the documents produced for claiming citizenship.
Hajela had in his report contended that "It is better to keep out a genuine citizen than include a non-citizen."
But the bench said this was a wrong approach as mere fears about forged documents being used to prove citizenship cannot be a ground to shut out these documents which are genuine.
The top court also fixed February 1 next year as the timeline for verification of the documents to back the claims of Indian citizenship.
In the second and final draft of the NRC, published on July 30, 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore applicants were included while the names of 40.07 lakh applicants did not find a place in the document.
The NRC will include the names of all Indian citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971.
The application process for the NRC started in May 2015 and a total of 6.5 crore documents were received from 68.27 lakh families across Assam.
The Supreme Court also sought a fresh status report from the NRC coordinator after December 15 before the case is taken up again.