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Assam citizenship row: Supreme Court refuses to extend deadline to publish final NRC beyond 31 May

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to extend the deadline for publication of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and directed the Centre to complete the work by 31 May.

The apex court said that the work of the verification of around one crore citizens in the state should continue without interference from any quarter.

A bench comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman said that it would monitor the progress of the NRC work in Assam after 30 days.

FIle image of Supreme Court. Reuters

FIle image of Supreme Court. Reuters

When Attorney General KK Venugopal told the bench that it was not "physically possible" to complete the work by 31 May, the apex court said its business was to make the impossible possible.

"Attorney General, what everybody thought was a big joke has been turned into a reality. Our business is to make impossible possible and we will do it. We are monitoring it for the last four years and we know this," the bench said.

The bench also made it clear that the upcoming panchayat and local body elections in Assam, which are scheduled to be held in the months of March and April 2018 will be conducted by the state election commission and the state government.

"The work of holding panchayat and local body elections in Assam will not be at the cost of upgrading and preparation of NRC and the NRC work will continue as before with full deployment," the bench said.

The top court also said that the state election commission and the state government would take all the necessary action for holding these elections. The bench also did not accept the request to appoint an additional state coordinator for NRC work and said that incumbent coordinator Prateek Hajela would continue to carry out the exercise till it reaches its logical conclusion.

The bench has listed the matter for further hearing on 27 March. Earlier, the first draft NRC for Assam was published in December end as per the apex court's direction to come out with the first draft NRC by 31 December, 2017.

The Supreme Court had said that claims of those citizens, whose names do not figure in the draft NRC for Assam published by 31 December, would be scrutinised and included in the subsequent list if found genuine.

The apex court had on 30 November said that on the expiry of midnight of 31 December, the draft NRC pertaining to 2.38 crore claims, would be published. The NRC is prepared to identify illegal migrants in Assam.

The court had observed this while rejecting the Centre's plea seeking an extension of time for publication of the draft NRC.

The NRC of 1951 is being updated for Assam in accordance with the tripartite agreement among the state and central governments and the influential All Assam Students Union (AASU), which was arrived at in 2005 to implement the 1985 Assam Accord.


Updated Date: Feb 20, 2018 16:44 PM

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