Today's Paper

NRC: Assam seeks month’s extension

The Assam government moved the Supreme Court on Monday for extending by a month the deadline to file claims and objections for inclusion in the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

A Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Nariman on November 1 approved the Centre’s draft Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for submission of claims. It kept December 15 as the last date for filing claims by those excluded from the draft published on July 30.

Main reasons

In its application, filed by advocate Shuvodeep Roy, the government cited the panchayat elections in the State and the exhaustive nature of the claims and objections form as the major reasons for seeking more time. It was not easy for semi-literate and illiterate persons to fill the forms.

The State Election Commission had declared the schedule of panchayat elections on November 5 — four days after the Supreme Court set the deadline for December 15.

The polls were held in two phases on December 5 and 9. The counting of votes is on December 12.

The Assam government said people across the panchayat areas of Brahmaputra and Barak valley were “taking active part in the democratic process”. This and the lack of proper knowledge of the SOP among the masses may be two reasons why the number of claims lodged so far had been minimal.

It said the decision of the apex court to allow claimants to bank on five additional documents for inclusion in the final NRC has put an additional burden on the NRC authorities to make the inclusion process fool-proof, especially when an overwhelming majority of more than 93% of the 3.28 crore applicants have applied for inclusion on the basis of the 1951 NRC or voters’ list up to March 24, 1971.

“Thus it may be assumed that people in large numbers have to base their claims and objections on the recently restored five List ‘A’ documents, particularly NRC of 1951 and certified copy or extract of electoral roll of the period prior to March 24, 1971 and are in the process of readying the documents,” the State said.

The State said it had written to the State Coordinator, NRC, to move the Supreme Court through the Registrar General, but there had been no response.