NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a bid by the Central and Assam governments to pause the process of compiling a National Register of Citizens (NRC), refusing to reopen the reverification exercise.
With nearly 200,000 people staring at the possibility of disenfranchisement, the Centre has been trying to postpone the 31 August completion deadline to “maintain fairness" of procedure, it told Parliament last month.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to reopen the NRC process in Assam for sample reverification, turning down a plea by the Central and Assam governments. The governments had sought permission for reverification in order to wean out wrongful inclusions and exclusions, especially in districts bordering Bangladesh such as Kokrajhar and Dhubri.
With the NRC list set to be released at the end of the month, the Centre has started the exercise of ensuring that detention centres for illegal immigrants provide all basic amenities, including electricity, drinking water, hygiene, accommodation with beds, sufficient toilets with running water, and communication and kitchen facilities.
There are currently six detention centres across Assam, and the state government has been scrambling to set up 10 additional centres.
On Tuesday, a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R.F. Nariman also stated that those born after 3 December 2004 will not be included in the NRC if any of the parents is a “doubtful voter" or has been declared a foreigner by the tribunal or is contesting a case in the tribunal.
The court made it very clear that the list of those excluded from the final Assam NRC should be published only online on 31 August. Further, it directed that hard copies of the supplementary list of inclusions should be provided to the concerned district officers. It also held that the orders passed under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act should be challenged in the Gauhati high court.
The bench held that like Aadhaar data, the Assam NRC data should also be secured by an appropriate regime, adding that the exercise would not be reopened on the basis of legal challenges raised before it.
“We will not be bothered about what others say about our orders and judgements. We will continue to oversee NRC finalized as per schedule," said Gogoi.