Assam NRC: Apex court rejected most of 51 petitions in 6 years

NRC officials checking documents. File

NRC officials checking documents. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Many individuals and organisations had since 2013 filed petitions challenging one aspect of the NRC or the other

An analysis of petitions related to Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) filed in the Supreme Court has revealed that the stakeholders received a favourable verdict in only four of the 51 cases heard since 2013.

Many individuals and organisations had since 2013 filed petitions challenging one aspect of the NRC or the other. But the apex court narrowed the stakeholders down to 10, including the Central and Assam governments.

These stakeholders are the All Assam Students’ Union, All Assam Minority Students’ Union, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, Assam Public Works, Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Progressive), Indigenous Tribal People’s Federation, and the Joint Action Committee for Bangali Refugees.

Lawyers representing some of these stakeholders had analysed the NRC-related petitions.

Most significant

Of the four judgments that went in favour of the stakeholders, the most significant was allowing certificates issued by the Gram Panchayat or executive magistrate to be used as an identity document for claiming citizenship if issued after conducting proper enquiries. The Supreme Court had on November 30, 2017, set aside an order of the Gauhati High Court that invalidated such certificates.

The overruling of the High Court’s order provided relief to at least 29 lakh rural women in the State, who use the document to establish linkage with fathers and husbands.

“Another major verdict was on December 12, 2018, whereby the apex court rejected the NRC authority’s plea that documents issued after 2015 would not be accepted. Allowing the documents irrespective of the date of issue enabled many of those excluded from the draft NRC to re-apply,” a lawyer for one of the stakeholders said.

The third favourable ruling was on November 1, 2018, when the apex court reversed the NRC authority’s move to trim the list of admissible documents from 15 to 10. The five documents that the NRC authority said could not be relied upon included the NRC of 1951, electoral rolls up to the midnight of March 24, 1971, and citizenship and refugee registration certificates issued by the competent authority.

‘Most damaging’

“Of the 47 petitions that were rejected, the most damaging included acceptance of the NRC authority’s claim that legacy data have been exchanged or traded, exclusion of declared foreigners, doubtful voters and people with cases pending in Foreigners’ Tribunals, exclusion of people using legacy data by mistake and those with birth certificate errors,” the lawyer said.

Legacy data is a set of pre-1971 documents containing the name of a person from whom lineage is claimed.

The analysis also revealed that the Supreme Court heard nine petitions related to the NRC in 2013, seven in 2014, eight in 2017, and 15 and 12 in 2018 and 2019 (August 13) respectively.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 2:17:47 AM |

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