GUWAHATI: Highlighting “major irregularities” in the updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) of 1951 in Assam, the NRC authority has moved the Supreme Court seeking a comprehensive and time-bound re-verification of the register.
NRC State Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma had filed an interlocutory application on May 8. It was accepted on May 11. The NRC was updated under the direct monitoring of the Supreme Court.
He prayed that the SC passes appropriate directions for a complete, comprehensive, and time-bound re-verification of the draft NRC as well as the supplementary list of NRC under the provision of Clause 4(3) of the Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules 2003, where major irregularities have been highlighted in the body of the instant application”.
“Pass appropriate directions that the re-verification is done under the supervision of a monitoring committee in the respective districts and such committee may be preferably represented by the respective District Judge, District Magistrate & Superintendent of Police. Pass such other or further directions as Your Lordships may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case,” he prayed.
The entire NRC process had started in 2013 based on a petition filed by an organisation, Assam Public Works. Over 19.06 lakh people were left out of the final draft, published in August 2019. The final NRC will be published by the Registrar General of India.
Those who missed the NRC bus can challenge their exclusion at a foreigners’ tribunal. The process has not started yet as the NRC authority is yet to give the “rejection slips” to the excluded. It is delayed as “issues of substantive importance” cropped up.
Citing anomalies, Sarma in his application wrote that on June 28, 2019, the District Magistrate of Kamrup had submitted a report stating that 1,43,522 people applied for NRC under Chamaria Circle, and out of it, 64,247 were marked as Original Inhabitants (OIs). Their names were entered in the draft NRC. However, after some random verification, it emerged that 14,183 did not fall under the category of OIs.
“A special verification was hurriedly carried out against 30,791 people under Chamaria Circle... During re-verification, 7,446 persons were found ineligible for inclusion in the supplementary list of NRC. The disturbing fact is that out of these 7,446 people found ineligible, as many as eight were declared foreigners, two were descendants of declared foreigners, 19 were doubtful voters, 43 were descendants of doubtful voters, 13 cases were pending in the foreigners' tribunal, and 10 were descendants of persons whose matters were pending in the foreigners' tribunals,” the application reads.
The application also said although office and field verification helped in the preparation of the NRC, this cannot be said error-free and conclusive.
“The office verification process had helped in detection of only forged documents; it could in no manner help detect any manipulated/manufactured secondary document….For example, a name in the electoral roll may be verified through back-end verification but the office verification cannot detect whether the name in the electoral roll was entered fraudulently with the strength of some forged/manipulated documents,” Sarma wrote.