The Centre and the State of Assam on Tuesday made an urgent mention before the Chief Justice of India for an extension of the deadline for the final publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) from July 31, 2019, to a “future date”.
In identical but separate applications, they urged the Supreme Court for more time to conduct a “sample re-verification process” of the names included in the draft NRC published on July 30, 2018.
They said a 20% sample re-verification of the names should be conducted in districts bordering Bangladesh and a 10% sample re-verification in the remaining districts.
The Assam government, represented by advocate Shuvodeep Roy, said the 20% sample re-verification should target border districts where illegal migration from Bangladesh was higher and where population growth had been reported higher than the State’s average, as per census reports.
Both the Centre and the State said the re-verification exercise should be conducted by Class 1 officers of the State government from other districts who have knowledge and experience of handling the process of enquiry/investigation. The applications further sought an order that the sample re-verification should be undertaken at a place different from where the NRC exercise happened. The Assam government agreed that this would cut out the possibility of local influences, bias/threat, etc.
“But why should we grant an extension?” asked the CJI even as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta pressed for an early hearing.
“We will have it on August 1 then,” the CJI said. To this, Mr. Mehta said the last date of publication of NRC was July 31. “We will see,” the CJI finally said.
The applications may be listed soon for hearing before a Special Bench of the CJI and Justice Rohinton Nariman. The applications have been filed despite repeated orders and oral observations from the court in the past to finish the NRC process on July 31, 2019.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in its application, tried to impress upon the court the “unprecedented large scale of complexities” involved in the NRC process.
The Ministry informed the court that the NRC exercise had created apprehensions in the minds of the citizens and could very well impact social harmony, and law and order in the State. Tensions could rise with just a few days left for the culmination of the ongoing process of NRC “It is pertinent that the exercise of sample re-verification must necessarily follow before the publication of the final list,” the application said.
The draft NRC list, published on July 30, 2018, had included 2,89,83,677 persons as Indian citizens but found 40,70,707 persons ineligible. , having been found ineligible to be considered for inclusion. The Centre said re-verification should be done for both inclusions and exclusions.
In its separate application to the court, Assam said that an “additional exclusion list” was issued on June 26, 2019. This list contained 1,02,463 names which had been earlier included in the draft NRC list.