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Home Ministry Approves Ration Cards as Valid Documents for National Register of Citizens

The letter mentioned that, while, Gaon (Village) Panchayat certificates will not be considered valid until the Supreme Court rules on it, ration cards do not fall under the same category.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:November 19, 2017, 3:29 PM IST
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Home Ministry Approves Ration Cards as Valid Documents for National Register of Citizens
File photo of the Ministry of Home Affairs nameplate.
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New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs in a letter to Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) Coordinator, Prateek Hajela, stated that the ration card as a "supporting document" has to be treated valid for the purpose of NRC update, due on December 31.

The letter, issued by Deputy Director General Sanjay, has mentioned that, while, Gaon (Village) Panchayat certificates will not be considered valid until the Supreme Court rules on it, ration cards do not fall under the same category.

"While approving modalities dated March 13, 2015, the list of documents that were admissible, which were to be enclosed by each applicant was also approved. The list contained two supporting documents –ration cards and Gaon Panchayat certificates, issued by the Secretary of Village Panchayat. It is clarified that all documents as appearing on March 13, 2015, except Gaon Panchayat certificates, which is sub-judice, are valid documents," read the letter.

Mustafa Khaddam, the advocate representing the All Assam Minorities Students’ Association told News18 that more than the refugees; the move would help genuine residents of Assam.

"Acceptance of ration cards as valid documents will help genuine citizens, who have been residing here since March 24, 1971," said Khaddam.

In April, this year, the Supreme Court had refused to accept ration cards as valid documents to include a person's name in the NRC.

The ruling came after the Gauhati High Court refused residency certificates, issued by gram panchayats, for the NRC update. The bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice F Nariman gave the order after it was informed by NRC state coordinator that the Centre had objections in accepting ration cards to prove citizenship.

The MHA’s latest move will bring relief to those refugees who entered Assam and were given shelter, ration cards by the Indira Gandhi government.

The Ministry, though, has made it clear that while disposing applications based on ration cards, there still needed to be "thorough investigation".

"It is suggested that careful scrutiny and thorough investigation is done before disposing applications based on ration cards in accordance with Citizenship Rules of 2003. As far as linkage is concerned, all legally admissible documents may be accepted," reads the MHA letter.

The next hearing on the case, which would hear on whether Gaon Panchayat certificates be treated as valid or not, will be heard on November 22.
| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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