New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed the Centre for delaying finalization of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam and said the deadline would not be extended beyond 31 July.

Centre had sought for the NRC process to be stalled as it will clash with parliamentary elections. Its plea for withdrawal of several armed forces deployed for finalizing the NRC in Assam in view of election duties was also rejected.

Reiterating that the deadline would not be extended and that the Centre must cooperate, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “It looks like the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is bent upon destroying our efforts towards the NRC."

On 24 January, the apex court had fixed 31 July as the deadline for publishing the final NRC for Assam. The Assam chief secretary, Assam NRC coordinator and secretary of the Election Commission were directed to hold a meeting within seven days to ensure that the process was not interrupted due to the parliamentary elections.

The NRC is a list of Indian citizens residing in Assam. It was prepared after the census of 1951. It was subsequently updated under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord to wean out illegal migrants from Bangladesh following a Supreme Court order of 2013.

Assam NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela had told the court that the process of receiving claims and objections was completed on 31 December. A total of 3.62 million claims for inclusion and over 200,000 objections had been received. Hearing on the claims will begin on 15 February.

The process of filing claims and objections with regard to the NRC released by Assam was flagged off on 25 September 2018. About 28.9 million of the 32.9 million applicants were included in the final draft of the NRC released on 30 July.

Out of the nearly 4 million applicants who had been left out of the final draft NRC, 248,000 applicants were kept on hold, including the D-Voters (doubtful voters who had been disfranchised on account of failure to prove citizenship), descendants of D-voters and persons whose cases are pending before the foreigners’ tribunal. 

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