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Picking holes in NRC demeans Supreme Court, says anti-CAA group

Supreme court of India

Supreme court of India | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto


An anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) group has asked the Supreme Court if it was aware that its status was being demeaned by the tendency to pick holes in the process that led to the preparation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

The apex court had monitored the exercise to update the NRC of 1951 from 2014. The process was paused after the draft citizens’ list was published in August 31, 2019, leaving out 19.06 lakh people out of 3.3 crore applicants.

In a letter to the Chief Justice of India on May 24, the Coordination Committee Against CAA said: “Since the Supreme Court had monitored the NRC with a view to ensuring its integrity and impartiality, and approved of its final draft, it was assumed by all responsible quarters that it was a reasonably correct document and that it had its bona fides beyond all doubt.”

“But ever since the Assam government appointed Hitesh Dev Sarma as the new Coordinator, things have been on a roll. The new incumbent… has from day one questioned the accuracy and validity of the document and made wild charges about millions of foreigners fraudulently making their way into its rolls,” the letter signed by the group’s chairman Hiren Gohain and chief coordinator Deben Tamuly said.

Citing Mr. Sarma’s first information report (FIR) against his predecessor Prateek Hajela, accusing him of corrupt and biased management of the NRC exercise, the group said the incumbent received “support from various biased and fanatical circles and put in grave alarm millions of genuine citizens who incurred high expenses” and underwent the rigours of the exercise to prove their citizenship.

“This also tends to arouse anxieties among saner sections of the public who thought the turmoil and unrest over this fraught question had been brought to an end by the completion of the NRC,” the group wrote, asking the apex court to clarify whether it had permitted Mr. Sarma for “an outrage against decent legitimate norms of public life”.

The group also asked whether the Supreme Court was aware of “of these trends that in our view tend to demean its status and dignity”.

Four Left parties — Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), and the Revolutionary Communist Party of India — have also panned Mr. Sarma for his “desperate bid to sabotage the NRC” and pave the way for the re-verification of the citizens’ list as demanded by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a few organisations.

The BJP and some indigenous groups want re-verification of at least 20% of the citizens’ list in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% in the other districts. The demand has been fuelled by the perception that millions of “Bangladeshis” or “illegal immigrants” have been accommodated in the NRC.

Many in Assam are paranoid about a demographic invasion by Bangladeshis, which often means Bengali-speaking Muslims. The NRC was updated with March 24, 1971 — the eve of the Bangladesh liberation war — as the cut-off date prescribed by the Assam Accord of 1985, which ended a violent, six-year agitation for ejecting foreigners from the State.

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 8:42:37 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/picking-holes-in-nrc-demeans-supreme-court-says-anti-caa-group/article65460616.ece