Other States

Court stays sacking of 252 Assam NRC workers

A villager checks names on the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on his mobile phone in Buraburi village in Assam. File   | Photo Credit: AP

The Gauhati High Court has stayed the termination of 252 junior assistants who had been employed on contract for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

They were served the termination notice on March 26, three days after the Registrar General of India (RG) ordered the closure of the NRC office in Assam and declined to sanction any fund after March 31. They had been appointed at the district, sub-division and circle levels in February 2015 with fixed monthly remuneration after the process of inducting them began on October 2, 2014.

Hearing a petition by Biplab Kumar Medhi and 251 others, the court of Justice Prasanta Kumar Deka ordered the continuation of their service. His order on April 26 also gave a two-week deadline for the Centre, RGI, Assam’s Chief Secretary, Home and Political Department Secretary and the State NRC Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma to respond.

Engaged on basis of specific terms

The court observed that the petitioners were engaged on the basis of specific terms of the contract that included termination of the agreement of their appointment without any reason.

But “there is a case to be heard as to whether the issuance of the impugned notice” on March 26 was “proper in terms of the Service Regulations, 2014” they are governed by, and various terms and expressions under the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, it said.

Justice Deka observed that the NRC update project “having reached almost the concluding stage” was stated as the reason for issuing the termination notice to the junior assistants with effect from April 30.

“But nowhere the respondents (RGI, Central and Assam governments, and NRC Coordinator) mentioned about any observation” of the Supreme Court about the updating exercise “reaching the concluding stage”, the order said.

The complete draft NRC was published in August 2019, excluding 19.06 lakh people out of 3.3 crore applicants. Each of these 19.06 was to have been issued rejection slips with reasons for their exclusion soon after the publication of the draft.

The rejection slips are yet to be issued for the excluded people to approach a Foreigners’ Tribunal within 120 days of receiving them. The tribunals are tasked with weighing their documents and deciding if an excluded person would remain excluded or make it to the NRC.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 3:54:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/court-stays-sacking-of-252-assam-nrc-workers/article34505840.ece

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