NEW DELHI :
As the deadline for the controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC) nears, the government has begun to hit the brakes on the Supreme Court-mandated process, telling Parliament on Wednesday there may be errors in the final list which could dilute the essence of the exercise.
The government statement comes a day after the Supreme Court refused a plea by the Centre and the state of Assam for an urgent hearing for the postponement of the NRC, the deadline for which is 31 July.
Earlier, on Monday, the Supreme Court asked the Union government to respond to a legal challenge to the NRC by the All Assam Minorities Students Union which fears “unfairness, unreasonableness and arbitrariness" could mar the process of enumerating Indian citizens—an exercise that only involves the state of Assam.
On Wednesday, the home ministry informed the Rajya Sabha that it was contemplating pushing the 31 July deadline further to “maintain fairness" of procedure.
“We have got 25 lakh (2.5 million) requests where some names have been excluded and some names have been wrongly included. We would like to ensure that there is no error in the final NRC list," minister of state for home affairs Nityanand Rai told the Upper House.
Rai said the Centre had moved the apex court to extend the deadline, and that the NRC would not be postponed indefinitely—but only till the errors had been weaned out from the final list.
However, in a move that also signal’s the Centre’s hardening stance against illegal immigration, home minister Amit Shah told the Upper House, “The Centre—as per its election manifesto—is dedicated to wean out illegal immigrants from every inch of this country. We will make sure that all such immigrants are deported as per international law."
The Centre and the Assam on Tuesday made an urgent mention before the Chief Justice of India for an extension of the deadline for the final publication of the NRC from 31 July to a “future date".