Give fair hearing to those not included in NRC, SC tells Assam

Do not cut short the process, CJI tells Hajela

May 30, 2019 11:42 pm | Updated 11:42 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prateek Hajela

Prateek Hajela

The Supreme Court on Thursday urged the Assam State National Register of Citizens (NRC) Coordinator to ensure that those who have appealed against non-inclusion of their names in the NRC must get a fair hearing, and due process should be followed.

Indirectly referring to reports of a Kargil war veteran being declared a foreigner, the Vacation Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Aniruddha Bose said reports were “disturbing and the media is not always incorrect.”

“Do not cut short the process just because you have to meet the deadline of July 31,” Justice Gogoi told NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela. But the court reiterated its consistent stand that the publication of the final list should not go beyond July 31. There would be no extension of the deadline, the CJI said.

“There is a deadline. But do not cut short and just complete the process only to complete it. Merely disposing of 70% claims till today is not good unless the disposal is properly done,” he observed.

‘Wise discretion’

On May 8, the court had asked the NRC Coordinator Court to act with “wise discretion” while dealing with people who have failed to appear for scheduled hearings on their objections filed against exclusion from the draft NRC.

“Objections’ hearings have started. ‘Objectors’ are not appearing in most cases,” Mr. Hajela had reported to a Special Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton F. Nariman on May 8

“If they are not appearing, the law will take its own course,” the CJI had replied.

The CJI had stressed that decisions taken by the NRC officials should be free and fair, keeping the law in mind.

“But whatever you do, do it by July 31. A day earlier than July 31, but not a day later,” Justice Gogoi had addressed Mr. Hajela before listing the case for July 3, after the summer vacation.

‘Make it hassle-free’

The court had further urged the NRC authorities to make the hearing processes as hassle-free as possible for the people of the State. Over 35 lakh people excluded from the draft NRC have filed claims for Indian citizenship.

The court had also asked the NRC authorities to ensure “optimum convenience” for those seeking justice in the NRC proceedings.

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