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Centre Sets Ball Rolling for Those Missing from NRC List to Approach Foreigners' Tribunals

The Centre has issued an order saying a person whose name is not part of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) can approach the tribunal with a certified copy of the rejection order received from the NRC authorities along with the grounds for appeal.

PTI

Updated:June 7, 2019, 5:06 PM IST
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Centre Sets Ball Rolling for Those Missing from NRC List to Approach Foreigners' Tribunals
A woman carrying her son arrives to check her name on the draft list of the National Register of Citizens at an NRC centre in Chandamari village in Goalpara district in Assam. (File photo/REUTERS)

New Delhi: With the final list of the NRC getting ready to be published in less than two months, the Centre has set the ball rolling for those whose names are missing to approach the foreigners' tribunals. The tribunals will deliver their verdict within four months of the missing persons submitting their records.

Exercising its powers conferred by the Foreigners Act, 1946, the central government has issued an order saying a person whose name is not part of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), currently being updated in Assam, can approach any such tribunal with a certified copy of the rejection order received from the NRC authorities along with the grounds for appeal. The order was uploaded on the website of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday night.

"The final order of the tribunal shall contain its opinion on the matter whether the Appellant is eligible for inclusion in the NRC or not. It shall also contain the opinion of the tribunal on the reference of the District Magistrate. The final order of the tribunal shall be a concise statement of facts and conclusion based on which the tribunal has arrived at such an opinion. The final order of the tribunal containing its opinion shall be given within a period of one 120 days from the date of production of the records," the MHA order said.

When the draft NRC was published on July 30, 2018, there was a huge controversy over the exclusion of 40.7 lakh people from it. The draft NRC included the names of 2.9 crore people out of the total 3.29 crore applications. The final NRC, a list of Assam's residents, will be published on July 31.

According to the latest MHA order, the appellant may appear either in person or through a legal practitioner or a relation authorised by the appellant in writing subject to the acceptance of such representation by the tribunal. The state government may appoint a pleader to represent the district magistrate (DM) or the deputy commissioner (DC).

The tribunal shall issue a notice to the DM/DC to produce NRC records within 30 days from the date of receipt of the notice and a copy of the notice shall also be sent to the pleader appearing for the government and to the appellant.

The DC will provide the NRC records in original, including the application form and documents submitted by the appellant and orders passed by the NRC authorities to the pleader appearing for the government against the claims or objections filed by the appellant, the order states. The DC may also refer to the tribunal for its opinion the question as to whether the appellant is a foreigner or not within the meaning of the foreigners Act, 1946. In case of such reference to the tribunal, the tribunal shall examine the reference along with

the appeal, it adds.

Persons against whom a reference has already been made by the competent authority to any foreigners tribunal shall not be eligible to file the appeal before the tribunal. If any foreigners tribunal has already given opinion about a person earlier as a foreigner, such person shall not be eligible to file an appeal to any tribunal.

On behalf of the DC, the pleader shall produce the NRC records before the tribunal. Upon production of the records, if the tribunal finds merit in the appeal, it shall issue notice to the appellant and the DC for hearing specifying the date of hearing and such date shall be within 30 days from the date of production of the records. The DC may depute an officer as authorised representative to act on his behalf in any proceeding before the tribunal.

During the hearing, the tribunal shall give the appellant, the pleader appearing for the government and the authorised representative of the DC, if any, a reasonable opportunity to present their case including the filing of any representation or producing documents or evidence in support of their case.

The Centre is also going to help the Assam government in setting up 1,000 foreigners tribunals by July 31. The central government is also in the process of giving its approval to the state government's proposal to set up e-Foreigners Tribunals for those declared illegal immigrants.

The Supreme Court-monitored NRC exercise, aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in the state that borders Bangladesh, was carried out only in Assam, which faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century.

When the NRC was first prepared in Assam way back in 1951, the state had 80 lakh citizens. According to the 2011 census, Assam's total population is over 3.11 crore.

The process of identification of illegal immigrants in the state has been widely debated and is a contentious issue in state politics.

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