The Supreme Court on Wednesday deferred till further orders the commencement of the process of receiving claims and objections for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and ordered that any one of the 10 of the 15 documents can be used by claimants to prove legacy.
A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman perused the report of Assam’s NRC coordinator Pratik Hajela and said it was agreeable to his suggestions that any one of the 10 of a total 15 documents provided in List-A of the claim form can be used by the claimants to prove legacy.
The bench also expressed reservation over sharing with the centre the copy of the NRC Coordinator’s report on the modalities for receiving claims from those excluded in draft NRC, saying though the Government of India was “extremely interested”, the court “has to strike a balance”.
The top court deferred till further orders the commencement of the process of receiving claims and objections for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the centre, said a copy of the report should be given to them as “Government of India is extremely interested in it”.
To this, the bench said “the Government of India may be interested but we need to balance it.”
As Mr Venugopal persisted with his demand for a copy of report saying “If I can see it, then only I can file my response to it”, the bench said “Not at this stage. We will put the list of documents which can be relied upon in our orders. You can see the order and file the response”.
On the demand of the Attorney General seeking a copy of the NRC Coordinator’s report, the top court said “we are of the considered view that at this stage what has been set out, should be sufficient for the Union of India and other stake-holders to indicate their views in the matter within two weeks, whereafter, orders as may be appropriate will be passed”.
The bench then posted the matter for further hearing on September 19.
It said the report with regard to preparation of the modalities of the Standard Operating Procedure for dealing with claims and objections, has been considered.
Mr Hajela had filed the report in compliance with the court’s August 28 order and stated that the 10 documents of List-A could be relied upon or introduced afresh by any claimant for his or her claim for inclusion in the NRC, subject to their authenticity as per the certification by the relevant issuing authority.
The ten legacy documents which are admissible include land documents like registered sale deed, permanent residential certificate issued from outside the state, passport and LIC insurance policy of the relevant period.
Other documents which can be relied upon include any license or certificate issued by any government authority of the relevant period, documents showing service or employment under government or public sector undertaking, Bank or Post Office accounts of relevant period, birth certificates issued by the competent authority, educational certificate and records or processes pertaining to courts, provided they are part of a processing in a Judicial or Revenue Court.
The report said that all these documents should be of the relevant period up to the midnight of March 24, 1971.
The list of documents to prove legacy, which were in the list-A of the claim form but were not included in the report include extract of NRC, 1951, extract or certified copy of electoral rolls up to the midnight of March 24, 1971, Citizenship Certificate issued by competent authority, refugee registration certificate and ration cards issued by competent authority with official seal and signature.
On August 28, the top court had said it could consider a re-verification of 10 per cent of the people who were recently included in Assam’s draft NRC, an exercise that could be carried out by an independent team.
The top court had termed the issue as “human problem with great magnitude” and asked the state NRC coordinator to submit a report in a sealed cover on the ramification of allowing the claimants to file new sets of legacy documents.
The final draft NRC list was published on July 30 in which names of 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore people were included. The names of 40,70,707 people did not figure in the list. Of these, 37,59,630 names have been rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 are on hold.
The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 in accordance with the top court’s direction. Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated then.
Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.