'India Can't Be Refugee Capital of World': On Assam NRC, Centre Tells SC Lakhs Wrongly Included in List
Supreme court agreed to hear the pleas of both the central and state governments for deliberation on July 23 to conduct a sample re-verification process to quell a growing perception that many illegal immigrants may have infiltrated the NRC especially in districts bordering Bangladesh.
"India cannot be the refugee capital of the world", the Centre and the Assam government said in the Supreme Court Friday while seeking the extension its July 31 deadline to finalise the National Register of Citizens so as to verify wrongful inclusions and exclusions in the NRC.
The top court agreed to hear the pleas of both the governments for deliberation on July 23 to conduct a sample reverification process to quell a growing perception that many illegal immigrants may have infiltrated the NRC especially in districts bordering Bangladesh.
A special bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R F Nariman had fixed July 31 as the deadline for publication of final list of the NRC and had reiterated that it will not be extended.
Both the governments said that they be allowed to undertake verification of 20 per cent random samples of citizens for wrongful inclusions or exclusions in the NRC.
The bench took note of the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the state government, that several lakhs people have been wrongfully included in the NRC, specially in districts bordering Bangladesh due to the involvement of local officers in the massive exercise.
"Please extend the deadline for publication of final Assam NRC from July 31 to a future date. There is a growing perception that many exclusions and many more inclusions have been made wrongly," the solicitor general said.
"India cannot be the refugee capital of the world," he said, adding there was a need to re-look the draft NRC list through sample verification.
At the outset, the law officer said that although Assam NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela has done "excellent work", it has been seen on the ground that wrongful exclusions and many inclusions have been reported in the some districts.
"Hajela's report says while disposing of claims (of those who were excluded in draft NRC), 80 lakh names have been re-verified. So there is no need for a sample re-verification. If we are satisfied that verification has been done properly, then there is no need for a sample re-verification, is it," the bench asked.
Both the governments moved the apex court on July 17 seeking a direction for 20 percent sample re-verification of names included in the final NRC draft in the districts of Assam bordering Bangladesh and 10 percent sample re-verification of names included in the final draft in the remaining districts.
The Centre's plea has also sought to suitably modify the time-line fixed for publication of the final list of NRC from July 31 to a future date.
It has also sought direction that such re-verification exercise to be conducted by Class I officers of the state government from other districts who have knowledge and experience of handling the process of enquiry/investigation.
The pleas have also sought a direction to fix the venue of the sample re-verification at a place which was not in the vicinity of the initial NRC verification to rule out possibility of local influences, bias and threat.
It claimed that names of Indian citizens were excluded and illegal Bangladeshi migrants were included in the draft. It also referred to the apex court's 2018 order by which it had said it could consider a re-verification of 10 percent of the people who were included in the draft NRC.
The top court had termed the issue as "human problem with great magnitude" and asked the state NRC coordinator to submit a report in a sealed cover on the ramification of allowing the claimants to file new sets of legacy documents.
The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published on the intervening night of December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018 in accordance with the top court's direction. Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated then.
Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.
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