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SC Transfers Assam NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela to MP Due to 'Threat to Life'

File photo of Prateek Hajela.

File photo of Prateek Hajela.

Although the apex court did not disclose the reason for the transfer, sources told News18 that the transfer has been done due to a threat to Hajela’s life.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre and the Assam government to transfer "forthwith" the Assam coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Prateek Hajela, to Madhya Pradesh for the maximum period possible. Although the apex court did not disclose the reason for the transfer, sources told News18 it has been done due to a threat to Hajela’s life.

The court has asked the government to notify the transfer within seven days.

Hajela, a native of Madhya Pradesh and a 1995-batch IAS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre, was appointed the NRC coordinator by the Supreme Court to oversee the mammoth and sensitive exercise of finalising and publication of the Assam NRC data.

A special bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde and RF Nariman ordered the inter-cadre transfer of Hajela on deputation to his native state for maximum possible period.

Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, sought to know the reason behind the unprecedented order of the top court, to which the CJI responded, "Can any order be passed without a cause or reason?"

The bench, however, did not specify the cause or the reason for passing the order, leading to speculation the officer might be apprehending some kind of threat after overseeing the gigantic and sensitive task of finalising the Assam NRC.

Hajela was also booked twice last month for alleged “discrepancies” in the final NRC list published on August 31. An indigenous organisation alleged that “even when people had correct documents NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela intentionally excluded the names of Goriya, Moriya and many indigenous sons of the soil”.

The top court has now posted the petitions on Assam NRC for further hearing on November 26. The CJI, who hails from Assam, is demitting office on November 17.

The much-awaited updated final NRC was released on August 31, this year excluding names of over 19 lakh applicants in the state.

A total of 3,30,27,661 people had applied to be included in the NRC. Of them, 3,11,21,004 have been included in the document and 19,06,657 excluded. The names of 1.9 crore people were published as Part Draft NRC on the midnight of December 31, 2017.

On July 23, the apex court had extended the deadline for publication of the final NRC by a month to August 31 and had rejected the pleas of the Centre and the state government seeking permission for 20% sample re-verification.

The Centre and the state government had claimed that names of Indian citizens were excluded and illegal Bangladeshi migrants were included in the draft. They had 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.

Assam, which faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC, which was first prepared in 1951.