SC: State Coordinator and government should together in publishing NRC


The Centre, Assam government and the State Coordinator appointed for National Register for Citizens (NRC) in Assam, are apparently working in silos instead of sharing information.

As a consequence, the Centre and the Assam government have brought forth the issue of re-verification of draft NRC data.

This observation was made by the Supreme Court during a hearing on a plea by the Centre and Assam for 20 per cent re-verification of the draft NRC data to rule out discrepancies.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi orally voiced its scepticism on the contention for re-verification of the data. The Centre and Assam sought extension to cross-check “invalid inclusions and exclusions” in and from the draft NRC published on July 30, 2018.

They argued for 20 per cent sample re-verification of names included on the draft list in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10 per cent for the remaining districts.

This contention for re-verification has a major implication on the NRC proceeding and the issues, inclusion and exclusion of names, at stake affect a large number of people in Assam.

This issue was blown-up in an extensive debate pinned at the validity of data in the draft NRC.

The Chief Justice argued the reports filed by NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela said re-verification was an integral part of the process, and it seems, it has already done during the disposal of claims in the NRC process.

“His (Hajela) report says while disposing of claims, 80 lakh names have been re-verified, which is tentatively 27 per cent names have been verified. You ask for 20 per cent and seek extension for the same… where is the requirement for this re-verification. If we are satisfied then what is the need for sample re-verification?” said the Chief Justice, who is at discretion to decide on the matter.

Delving further into this issue, the Chief Justice observed the absence of a channel to relay information between the government and the coordinator; therefore, the parties apparently appear on a different footing.

Though, the Solicitor General intended to buoy the argument by claiming India cannot afford to become capital of refugee in the world, and to avoid this, re-verification is mandatory.

“Apparently, there are more wrong inclusions on the list due to corrupt practices by lower level officers. Therefore, we need re-verification.”

Mehta had argued vehemently, highlighting the gravity of the matter and indicating that maybe coordinator is not aware of the ground reality. Though, the court was not moved.

Instead, the Chief Justice recommended the government and coordinator to exchange reports on the matter and work in tandem.

The court also asked Hajela to redact paragraphs the reports, which do not strictly deal with re-verification before handing over to Mehta. Meanwhile, Hajela claimed his office can publish the supplementary lists on July 31, containing the latest inclusion and exclusion incorporated after the claims and objections stage, followed by a consolidated list within a month.

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS)


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