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Assam NRC: State Coordinator Moves Supreme Court Seeking Comprehensive, Time Bound Re-verification Of Draft NRC

Nupur Thapliyal
13 May 2021 5:24 AM GMT
Assam NRC: State Coordinator Moves Supreme Court Seeking Comprehensive, Time Bound Re-verification Of Draft NRC
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The State Co-ordinator of the Assam NRC has approached the Supreme Court seeking a comprehensive and time bound reverification of draft NRC and the supplementary list of NRC under Clause 4(3) of Schedule of Citizenship (Registeration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 highlighting major irregularity in the process of making the same.The intervention application...

The State Co-ordinator of the Assam NRC has approached the Supreme Court seeking a comprehensive and time bound reverification of draft NRC and the supplementary list of NRC under Clause 4(3) of Schedule of Citizenship (Registeration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 highlighting major irregularity in the process of making the same.

The intervention application filed prays for deletion of illegal voters from the voters list of Assam and seeks an updation of the NRC, 1951.

Highlighting that the final NRC is yet to be published by the Registrar General of Citizens Registeration of India, the plea states that some "issues of substantive importance" have cropped up while preparing of rejecting slips on account of which the entire exercise of issuance of the Rejection Slips have got delayed.

Such rejection slips are issued to persons whose names were not included in the final NRC after disposal of Claims & Objections enclosing the speaking orders of Disposing Officers to enable the rejected persons to appeal before the Foreigners Tribunals.

Stating that some "glaring anomalies of serious nature" have been noticed in the process which relates to security and integrity of the nation, the plea states that one of the greatest achievements of the NRC updation process was the creation of a "huge digitised database of NRC of 1951 and the Electoral Rolls of Assam up to 1971, as also the digitised details of NRC applicants."

 "The preparatory works of NRC updation had led to the creation of the first breakthrough software application which was designed, namely the Digitised Legacy Data Development (DLDD). Through DLDD all the available NRC of 1951 and Electoral Rolls of Assam up to 1971 were digitised and were made searchable. It is an online database (with an offline version too) which enables searching the name of any person whose name appears in the Legacy Data. Such search is possible in English and also displays variations in spellings, as also leading to display of the actual image of the relevant Legacy Data. Number of Legacy Data made available to the public was 2.01 crores. Similarly, a total number of 3,30,27,661 persons applied through 68,37,660 applications, resulting in submission of about 6.5 crore supporting documents which were received along with the Application Forms, were all digitised." The plea highlights.

The plea states that the Office and Field Verification by which the applications are being verified cannot help in detecting the manipulated or manufactured secondary documents and the same cannot detect if the name was entered fraudulently in the electoral roll. The reason as stated in the plea is there had been "no back end verification in the preparation of electoral rolls".

In view of this, the plea states thus:

"That, out of names of 40,07,719 persons excluded from the Draft NRC, about 3,93,975 persons did not file any claims and therefore their names are in the exclusion list of the NRC. After some sample checks now and analysis of the names of the persons who did not file claims on the basis of Surnames only, it was found that 50,695 persons were apparently eligible for inclusion in the NRC. Out of this, 7,770 persons are from Originally Inhabitants category and 42,925 persons are from Persons from other States'. This figure may increase if detail re-verification is done. For a flawless and complete NRC, names of these persons have to be included in the Final NRC, failing which the Final NRC will lose its acceptability."

Another issue highlighted in the plea is of some "undeserving persons getting entry in NRC through wrong marking of Originally Inhabitant (OI)". According to the plea, it has been stated that there is every possibility that some people might not have any valid documents, however, "quite inexplicably" got their entry into NRC through the Ol window.

Addressing that the Family Tree Matching process was adopted as a remedy for Field Verification process, the plea further provides that the aforesaid procedure could have been a "ultimate full proof method of NRC Verification" had it been implemented with due diligence.

"Thus, it can be reasonably concluded that the software prepared for matching of Family Tree has no provision for quality checks. Rather the software was so prepared to avoid any quality checks giving the verifying officers of doubtful integrity a free hand to upload wrong results to fulfill their vested interest." The plea reads further.

Furthermore, the plea adds:

"Although the provisions of law have put the onus on proving the citizenship on the applicants, it is observed here, that officers were trying to prove the citizenship of the applicants by giving them a second chance to re-verify their documents where the back-end verification result was "NO" and their eligibility for inclusion in Draft NRC subjectively."

Stating the serious aberrations ought not to be ignored, it has also been provided that 17,916 persons are still included in the NRC despite office verification results being 'NO'.

Highlighting another lapse in the process, the plea adds further:

"It may be also mentioned here that though the Supplementary NRC was published on 31.08.2019, the result of the Supplementary list of NRC kept on changing till 14th of September 2019, when the result was published in the Internet. The System Integrator M/s WIPRO, who is responsible for maintaining the database of NRC, was asked to add/delete names in the final NRC till the 13th of September 2019 through e-mail which may not be legal. As a result, although on 31st August 2019 the total number of persons found eligible for inclusion in final NRC was 3,11,21,004, leaving 19,06,657 persons out of the final NRC (as per press statement), on 14th September 2019, these figures changed to 3,11,04,811 and 19,22,851 respectively."

It has also been stated that repeated requests were made to then State Co-ordinator Mr. Prateek Hajela for providing password of the official email which was denied by him.

Addressing the aspect of data leak and aadhar linkage, the plea states that a meeting in the Union Home Ministry under Chairmanship of Union Home Secretary dated 22 February 2020 was conducted in the presence of members of UIDAI.

"It is further brought to the knowledge of this Hon'ble Court that at the time of joining of the present applicant as SCNR, the office computer of the SCNR was found reformatted and all previous data were deleted. The password of the official e-mail ID was also not handed over to the office by the then SCNR Sri Hajela. In reply to a notice issued by office to Sri Hajela to hand over the password of the e-mail, he refused hand over the password on the plea that there were some confidential matters in the e-mail account pertaining to sealed cover reports to the Hon' ble Supreme Court of India and that the present SCNR is not authorised to access it." The plea states.

Furthermore, it has been stated that till the publication of the Final NRC and for the purpose of completing the activities of enactment of AADHAAR like security regime, issue of Rejection Slips, measures for correcting the anomalies, "the continuation for running the office of the State Coordinator, Assam is necessary for which an additional amount of fund for incurring per month expenditure to the tune of Rs.2.10 crores is required as the sanctioned amount of Rs. 1602.66 Crores for the updation of NRC has been exhausted considering the committed liabilities."

The plea states the following prayers:

- Pass appropriate directions for a complete, comprehensive and time-bound reverification of the draft NRC as well as the supplementary list of NRC under the provision of the Clause 4(3) of the Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National ldentity Cards) Rules 2003, where major irregularities have been highlighted in the body of the instant application herein above.

- Pass appropriate directions that the re-verification be done under the supervision of a monitoring committee in the respective districts and such committee may be preferably represented by the respective District Judge, District Magistrate & Superintendent of Police.

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