SC seeks report on Assam draft NRC ramification (Lead)

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New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a report on the ramifications, including advantages and disadvantages, of giving another opportunity to the 40 lakh people who were not included in the final draft of Assam's National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton Fali Nariman directed the Assam state co-ordinator of NRC Prateek Hajela to submit a report by September 4.

Fixing the next hearing for September 5, the top court made it clear that the confidential note should to be submitted to the court alone.

The court said the date for the commencement of receiving claims and objections, which at present is August 30, had to be postponed.

Besides, the court directed Hajela to tell the time required for the verification of the sample of 10 per cent of the left out people in each of the 27 districts of Assam.

"We want to examine the correctness of the preparation of the draft NRC by means of sample verification of at least 10 per cent of those who are left out", Justice Gogoi told Hajela.

In the last hearing on August 16, the court had asked Hajela to file in a sealed cover the percentage of population in each district left out of the final draft of NRC.

At the outset, Justice Gogoi referred to the provision in the Standard Operating Procedure for the disposal of claims and objections which provided that a person, left out of draft NRC, can make a claim by producing one of the eligible documents to establish legacy and nativity.

Justice Gogoi asked Attorneys General K.K. Venugopal: "Why call for documents (to prove legacy)? Why are you giving a second chance? Would it not amount to redoing of the exercise at the stage of (receiving) claims and objections?"

Having said this, Justice Gogoi asked: "Will there be no tinkering with the family tree. Once he claims linage to father, then to grandfather, would it not amount to tinkering with family tree?"

Defending the provision in SOP, Attorney General Venugopal said that documents relating to family tree were not the only documents. There are other documents in support of their claims for inclusion in NRC.

At this Justice Gogoi referred to the submission by then Additional Solicitor General P.S. Patwalia telling the court that the family tree was the process through which the linage of a person can be established.

Observing that "you want to give them (left out of NRC) another chance", Justice Gogoi said" "We will hold hearing (on the issue) next week and extend the date for receiving claims and objections.

Referring to the consequences of their non-inclusion in the draft NRC, the Attorney General said: "You may not deport them. They can't have land and jobs."

At this Justice Nariman said, "Consequences are so serious that if he (left out of NRC) is not a citizen, he loses all. It is a human problem."