The Supreme Court on Thursday came on the same page as the government, allowing more than 40 lakh people left out of the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam to use five additional documents, including the ration card, to claim their Indian legacy.
Consequently, the court extended the last date for filing of claims and objections from November 25 to December 15.
Notices till Jan. 15
The deadline for issuing notices to claimants, after digitisation and completion of all formalities, is January 15, 2019. The verification of their claims would begin on February 1 next year. Further details of the time schedule, including the time for completion of verification/enquiry of the claims, will follow at the appropriate time.
List of documents
In a major relief to claimants who did not find a place in the final draft of the NRC released on July 30, a Special Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton F. Nariman allowed them to use any of the five documents — the NRC, 1951; citizenship certificate; refugee registration certificate; certified copies of the pre-1971 electoral rolls, particularly those issued from the State of Tripura; and ration card. The court had earlier been circumspect about the use of the five records.
The Bench disagreed with NRC Co-ordinator Prateek Hajela’s conclusion in his October 4 report that since these five documents could be easily forged, they should not be permitted to be used. “We do not think you are right, Mr. Hajela,” Justice Nariman told him.
“We are of the view that the objection of Mr. Hajela to the five documents in question and specifically with regard to the documents listed at Serial Nos. (i) and (ii) i.e. names in NRC, 1951; and names in Electoral Roll up to 24th March, 1971 is based entirely on a possibility of abuse which, however, strong, cannot be an acceptable reason in law to exclude the documents from consideration,” Chief Justice Gogoi observed in the 18-page order for the Bench.
The court had been worried about how fail-safe these documents would prove to be. Chief Justice Gogoi had orally wondered whether these documents could be ‘manufactured.’ Mr. Hajela’s negative report had confirmed the court's apprehensions. He had advised against the use of the five documents.
Instead, on Thursday, the court struck a balance. It said the answer lay in allowing the use of these five records, subject to additional and thorough verification. It asked Mr. Hajela to prepare the groundwork for fool-proof verification of claims. The court directed him to submit a report after December 15.