The Centre is all set to amend the rules that would enable residents whose names don’t feature in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to file an appeal before the Foreigners Tribunals in Assam.
A senior Home Ministry official explained that amendments will be made to the rules in the Foreigners Tribunal Order, 1964 as under the existing law only State or Police could move the Tribunal against a person suspected to be illegally staying in Assam.
“As the NRC process is in an advanced stage, we have to think of people whose names don’t appear even in the final list. Remedies will have to be extended to such people. Under the changed rules, such subjects could themselves move the Foreigners Tribunals and present their case that they are not staying illegally,” said a senior government official. There are 100 Foreigners Tribunals functioning in Assam.
As per directions of the Supreme Court, the Registrar General of India (RGI) is to publish the final draft list on July 30 to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who had illegally entered the State from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
The first draft containing the names of 1.9 crore out of 3.29 crore applicants was published on December 31 last year.
Another Home Ministry official said on Monday that those not part of the draft NRC will not automatically be declared foreigners, but will get a one-month window to file claims and objections, besides subsequent judicial recourse.
“Residents will have opportunity to file claims and objections before a number of authorities in a one-month window from August-September. They will be given a proper hearing,” the official said.
Exclusion from the final NRC does not mean automatic declaration of anyone as foreigner and once the final document is published, if someone is dissatisfied, he or she can always go to a Foreigners Tribunal in the State to get justice, he said.
“There are unnecessary misgivings about the NRC and people are trying to fan rumours when the entire exercise is being monitored by the Supreme Court,” said the official.
He said no one should have any apprehension about the exercise and added that adequate central paramilitary forces were dispatched to Assam to assist the State administration to deal with any law-and-order situation.