The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Nariman on Thursday extended to December 15 the deadline for filing the claims and objections by individuals excluded from the first draft of the NRC for the state of Assam as published on July 30.
The bench also permitted the introduction of any one or more of the following five documents for claimants to rely on to prove their citizenship, at this stage of the updation process-
(i) Names in NRC, 1951;(ii) Names in Electoral Roll upto 24th March, 1971;(iii) Citizenship Certificate; and Refugee Registration Certificate;(iv) Certified copies of pre-1971 Electoral Roll, particularly, those issued from the State of Tripura; and(v) Ration Card
At the previous hearing, the court had invited all stakeholders to offer their opinion on the stand adopted by Mr. Prateek Hajela, the State Coordinator for the Assam NRC, in regarding as inexpedient the allowing of claims for inclusion in the NRC to be filed on the basis of five specific documents.
Insofar as the documents listed above at serial no.s (iii), (iv) and (v) are concerned, the bench recorded that the primary thrust of Mr. Hajela’s objections is that in the process of verification for inclusion of names in the draft NRC, a large number of forged documents belonging to the said three categories had been filed.
“It is our considered view that the mere possibility of filing of forged documents or that such documents were filed in the earlier exercise cannot be a ground to exclude the same from the impending process of filing of claims and objections. Needless to say, all such documents must be subjected to a thorough process of verification and would be accepted only after due and complete satisfaction of the genuineness of the same”, observed the court.
The first two documents were sought to be not allowed by Mr. Hajela by citing the misuse of legacy data and the impossibility of the NRC authorities to catch the impostors- “Even if the Legacy Person is frozen, it is possible that misuse of the Legacy data may be done by some persons. This will happen by using unused Legacy Data Codes (LDCs) of the same Legacy Person as multiple LDCs are available for the same Legacy Person. Multiple LDC availability means that one person’s name appears in multiple pre 1971 records, for example, a person’s name may appear in 1951 NRC and also in 1966 Electoral Rolls and also in 1971 Electoral roll”
The bench noted that the state of Assam has sought to answer this objection by adopting various means, including requiring the applicants to declare all the LDCs of their claimed Legacy Person, Mr. Hajela himself conceding that the LDCs of their Legacy Person would be known to the genuine Family Members.
The bench was of the view that one which is entirely a possibility of abuse, however, strong, cannot be an acceptable reason in law to exclude the documents from consideration.“In this regard, we permit Shri Hajela to undertake through his team a vigorous process of verification and have additional layers of such verification to ensure that only and only eligible persons are included in the final NRC”, stated the court.
The total number of persons included in the Complete Draft NRC is 2,89,83,677, leaving out as many as 40,70,707 for being ineligible for inclusion. Out of the aforesaid 40,70,707 names, 37,59,630 names have been rejected and 2,48,077 names were kept on hold.