3 Nov 2019 5:46 PM GMT
Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Sunday stated that the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a base document for the future – kind of a reference document to determine future claims."The Assam Accord of 1985 and its concomitant features – introduction of Section 6A in the Citizenship Act and the promise of a National Register of Citizens was an attempt...
Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Sunday stated that the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a base document for the future – kind of a reference document to determine future claims.
"The Assam Accord of 1985 and its concomitant features – introduction of Section 6A in the Citizenship Act and the promise of a National Register of Citizens was an attempt to evolve a solution through the legal framework. What are the results? Section 6A is waiting for a nod from the Supreme Court while the NRC is not without contestations. The NRC is neither new nor a novel idea. It found expression as early as in the year 1951 and in the particular context of Assam, in 1985 following the Assam Accord. Infact the current NRC is an attempt to update the 1951 NRC".
It was a bench headed by Justice Gogoi which monitored the Assam NRC Process. He will retire on Nov 17.
The Chief Justice was speaking on the release function of the book " Post Colonial Assam (1947)" by Mrinal Taludkar.
He said there was an urgent need to ascertain with some degree of certainty the number of illegal immigrants, which is what the current exercise of NRC attempted.
"Prior to this exercise, the whole discourse had been repeatedly fed with enormous amount of guesswork as to the number of illegal migrants, which in turn fueled panic, fear and vicious cycles of lawlessness and violence. Callous reporting by few media outlets only worsened the situation".
He said, the entire exercise is nothing but a manifestation of one of the most peaceful means by which the stakeholders seek to remedy the wrongs and omissions of that turbulence, whose effects changed the courses of lives of not only individuals but of communities and cultures across the region.
"Those changes have had cascading effects, down the generations. The cascade still operates, in indescribable ways and manifestations. The wounds of that turbulence haven't healed as yet. There isn't any place for any fresh wounds or any political conundrum".
A base document for the future
"The Assamese people have displayed great magnanimity and large-heartedness in accepting various cut-off dates, for the purposes of preparation of the NRC, that are at a considerable distance from the time when the first onslaught of forced migration hit them or their ancestors. This humaneness is 'acceptance', that is one of the first steps towards inclusivity. It needs to be told and brought on record that people who raise objections, including to these cut-off dates, are playing with fire", CJI said.
Chief Justice described NRC as a base document for the future
"This is an occasion to put things in proper perspective – the NRC as it will finally emerge is not a document of the moment – 19 lakhs or 40 lakhs is not the point. It is a base document for the future – kind of a reference document to determine future claims."
Media Worsened the situation
He said the callous reporting by few media outlets only worsened the situation. There was an urgent need to ascertain with some degree of certainty the number of illegal immigrants, which is what the current exercise of NRC attempted.
"At this cross-road, we need to keep in mind that our national discourse has witnessed the emergence of arm-chair commentators who are not only far removed from ground realities, but also seek to present a highly distorted picture. The emergence of the social media, and its tools, have also fuelled the intent of such commentators, who thrive through their 'double-speak' language sitting in the confines and comforts of their spaces. They launch baseless and motivated tirades against democratic functionalities and institutions, seeking to hurt them and bring down their due processes. These commentators, and their vile intentions, do survive well in situations where facts are far removed from the citizenry, and rumour-mills flourish".
"One can see this happening these days, in the manner in which working of the institutions are assessed, especially by the media and particularly on the social media. A case in point would be the nature of reporting about the whole NRC process, and institutions engaged therein. One has to ask, is this a constructive manner of engaging with any institution, particularly one tasked with the crucial responsibility of protection of basic rights of all. We must desist the urge of finding wrongs and shortcomings everywhere we look and merely for the sake of finding one. The constant desire to play to the gallery by demeaning institutions and all their efforts, must be resolutely avoided. This of course must be a self-check. At no point is this a suggestion for uncritical affiliation, for public scrutiny and critical engagement are an absolute imperative for attainment of a vibrant and meaningful democracy. But where is the critical engagement, when unrestrained mudslinging, casting unsubstantiated aspersions and launching personal attacks against both the institution and its members, masquerade as public discourse. We all will do well to remember, that it does not take long to tear down an institution but it takes eons to build an effective one", said the Chief Justice.
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