GUWAHATI: The Supreme Court has sought an explanation from the Assam government over allegation that Hitesh Dev Sarma, the state coordinator for National Register of Citizens (NRC), had made communal statements on the social media.
“He should not be saying all this. You (Assam government) have to explain this…” a bench, headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, observed on Monday.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal had drawn the court’s attention to the alleged communal statements. Earlier, separate petitions were filed by some organisations seeking Dev Sarma’s removal as the NRC state coordinator.
Opposition Congress welcomed the court’s observation.
“Mr. Dev Sarma is a senior officer who is seated on the hot chair. Where did he get the right and power from to make such irresponsible comments? It is the government’s failure. We welcome the court’s observation on the matter,” senior Assam Congress spokesman Apurba Bhattacharya told this newspaper.
Dev Sarma had replaced Prateek Hajela who was transferred to his home state Madhya Pradesh following an order by the SC.
The first to register a protest against Dev Sarma’s statements was Assam Congress MP, Abdul Khaleque. He had written to Assam Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi alleging that the NRC’s new state coordinator, prior to his appointment, had shared several controversial posts on the social media against a particular community.
“…From the various posts, the biasness of Mr. Dev Sarma is quite apparent and palpable. His conducts and views regarding this matter prima facie show a high degree of biasness…Therefore, Mr. Dev Sarma is not a fit person to handle such a sensitive post,” Khaleque wrote in the letter after Sarma had taken over charge.
“…If Mr. Dev Sarma is in the helm of affairs, there is a likelihood that the process of such re-verification and other incidental activities would be done in a biased manner,” the MP had written.
Meanwhile, Assam Public Works (APW), an NGO which had first moved the SC seeking the updation of the NRC, said the court sought a reply from the Assam government on its plea for 100% re-verification of NRC documents.
“The court heard our petition and directed the Assam government to give a reply. We will get a picture on the matter after four weeks,” APW chief Abhijeet Sarma said.