SC Says No to Reopening Assam NRC Exercise, Asks Govt to Make Data ‘as Secure as Aadhaar’
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice RF Nariman said the list of those excluded from the final Assam NRC will be published only online on August 31.
People at an NRC Nagarik Seva Kendra in Guwahati. (PTI photo)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a plea to reopen the Assam National Register of Citizens exercise and said there would be no sample re-verification of the data.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice RF Nariman said the list of those excluded from the final Assam NRC will be published only online on August 31, while hard copies of the inclusions will be handed over to concerned District offices.
The top court said it has considered the provisions under Section 3 and 6(a) of the Citizenship Act as well as the prescribed rules under the Act. "The entire NRC exercise having been performed on aforesaid basis cannot now be ordered to be reopened."
This effectively means that all persons born after December 3, 2004, will be excluded from the NRC should any of their parents be declared a foreigner by the tribunal, or if their registered voter status is under doubt.
The SC, which has been monitoring the process for six years, said the NRC data should be kept “as secure as Aadhaar data”, as it asked the government to implement an appropriate regime for it.
The central government, Assam government and the NRC co-ordinator will also only have limited access to the data, the court ordered.
This comes after a leak of the district-wise NRC data in Assam that was tabled in the state assembly. This was from the draft final NRC published in July last year.
The leak in August first week, after the top court said that the final NRC should be published on or by August 31, raised some questions over the exercise as it suggested that most people in areas bordering Bangladesh were included in the citizenship list, while many in districts dominated by the indigenous people were left out.
On 23 July, the top court had extended the deadline for publication of the final NRC in Assam by a month to 31 August while rejecting the Centre and Assam government’s pleas seeking permission for 20 per cent sample re-verification.
The Centre and the Assam government had sought permission to find out wrongful inclusions and exclusions, virtually excepting that the process was not error-free.
But the plea was dismissed after the NRC coordinator told the SC that there was no need for further re-verification as over 72 lakh people had been re-verified already to consider exclusion/inclusion of names in the list. The final draft NRC, published in August last year, had excluded roughly 40 lakh people.
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