The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended the deadline for submission of claims and objections for inclusion in the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) from December 15 to December 31, 2018.
A Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton Nariman also extended the subsequent date for starting the process of verification of the claims and objections from February 1 to February 15.
The court further directed NRC and State authorities to make available copies of draft NRC at district magistrate offices, gram panchayat offices, sub divisional offices so that those who want to file objections could easily verify the Application Receipt Numbers (ARN) of those already included in the final draft NRC.
Assam NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela however objected to the State government's plea that these numbers should be published online. Mr. Hajela said online publication would expose the ARNs to people outside the country.
The court declined to pass any immediate order on the Assam government's plea for an “intensive sample re-verification of 20% inclusions in the final draft NRC”.
Mr. Hajela gave the court an update that though there was only a mere trickle of claims and objections in the initial stage, the last few days have seen a flood pouring in. He said 14.28 lakh claims and objections have been received so far.
On November 1, a Bench of Justice Gogoi and Justice Nariman had approved the Centre’s draft Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for submission of claims for inclusion in the NRC. It had kept December 15 as the last date for filing of claims by those excluded from the draft of the NRC published on July 30, 2018.
Mr. Hajela 'document' submissions contradicts the Assam government submission that the number of claims and objections lodged so far has been only "minimal".
In its application, filed by advocate Shuvodeep Roy, the State government had cited the panchayat elections in the State and exhaustive nature of the claims and objections forms as two major reasons for the one-month time extension. The State had said it was not easy for semi-literate and illiterate persons to fill up these forms.
It said an extension was necessary after the apex court had decided to allow claimants to bank on five additional documents for inclusion in the final NRC. This has added to the paper work and put an extra onus on the NRC authorities to make the inclusion process fool-proof.