The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Nariman on Thursday refused to extend the deadline for the publication of the final NRC for the state of Assam beyond July 31.
State Coordinator Prateek Hajela had submitted that in view of the Parliamentary Elections that are likely to be held this year, the publication of the final NRC may stretch to the end of September. He suggested that if an arrangement can be made to retain some of the NRC staff from election duty, the period could be shortened.
"Having considered the matter we are of the view that, in no circumstances, the publication of the final NRC should be stretched beyond 31st July, 2019. Insofar as the deployment of government staff, currently engaged in NRC work, for election duty is concerned we are of the view that both the processes i.e. the preparation of final NRC and the election should receive equal importance and proceeded with simultaneously without one affecting the other", the court observed on Thursday.
As to the optimum number of State Government employees presently engaged in NRC work who can legitimately continue to be deployed in such work and the number of such employees who can be allocated for election duty without affecting the NRC work, the court requested SG Tushar Mehta to arrange a meeting of the State Coordinator, the Secretary of the Election Commission and the Chief Secretary of the State of Assam and report back on the outcome within seven days.
In respect of the process of consideration of claims for inclusion, the bench chose to leave it to the judgment of the State Coordinator to adopt such method/methods as may be considered just, proper and appropriate to ensure a fair hearing.
The bench was informed that the process of filing of claims and objections has been concluded on December 31, 2018 and about 36.2 lakh claims and about 2 lakh objections have been filed. Further, notices have been issued for hearing which is due to commence on and from February 15. It was also communicated that a minimum of 15 days' time would be given to each claimant before the date of hearing so as to enable him to participate effectively in the hearing.
The first draft of the NRC was published on July 30 last year. The total number of persons included in the Complete Draft NRC was 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.