SC seeks views of stakeholders on SOP on citizens’ register

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New Delhi, Aug 16 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Thursday sought the views of stakeholders including the All Assam Students Union (AASU), All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, on the modalities and Standard Operating Procedures for filing and disposal of claims and objections regarding the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

It asked the state NRC coordinator to file in a sealed cover the data of district-wise percentage of population, excluded from the NRC draft in the state. The bench also decided not to seek the views of any political party in this regard.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman said it has considered the SOP for final NRC and wanted the views of all the stakeholders on it. “At this stage without commenting on any of the modalities suggested on behalf of the Union of India in consultation with the Government of Assam, Registrar General of India (RGI) and state coordinator for NRC, we are of the view that the stakeholders ought to be given time until August 25, 2018 to indicate their views in the matter,” it said.

Besides AASU, AAMSU and the Jamat, the court sought views of stakeholders which include petitioners Assam Public Works, Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha (an indigenous peoples organisation of Assam), National Democratic Front of Boroland (Progressive), Indigenous Tribal Peoples Federation, All Assam Bhojpuri Parishad (AABP) and the Joint Action Committee for Bengali Refugees.

It asked the Attorney General KK Venugopal and the state NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela as to who were the stakeholders whose views were taken earlier. Hajela replied that there was a state sub-committee in 2012-13, which had taken the views of AASU, AAMSU and different political parties on the NRC issue.

The bench said it would not like to seek views of political parties on the issue this time. The bench said that it has perused the Centre’s SOP and timeline but would not like to comment on it, except that the date for receipt of claims and objections from public on NRC, should be August 30.

The court said that as per the rules, the period for receipt of claims and objections should be 30 days. It said that further dates given in the Centre’s SOP drafted in consultation with Registrar General of India and state NRC coordinator will be deliberated at a later stage after getting the views of stakeholders.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Assam, said that for the convenience of people, the copy of the draft NRC should be made available at panchayat offices in every village and all the deputy commissioners’ offices.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on August 28. On August 14, the Centre had told the apex court that distinct IDs will be created by collecting biometric details of 40 lakh people filing claims and objections with respect to the NRC.

It said after the publication of the final list of NRC, those people whose names will figure in it, will be given the Aadhaar numbers as applicable to the legal residents. On July 31, the apex court had made it clear that there will be no coercive action by authorities against over 40 lakh people, whose names do not figure in NRC, observing that it was merely a draft.

Second draft NRC list was published on July 30 in which out of 3.29 crore people, names of 2.89 crore were included in the draft NRC. 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.

The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 according to the top court’s direction. Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated. 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.

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