Assam NRC: Supreme Court says 40 lakh excluded from list must get fair chance; Centre may seek their biometrics

A day after the second and final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was released, the Supreme Court said that all those whose names haven't been included in the list must get a fair chance to prove their claims. Attorney General KK Venugopal requested the apex court to issue orders for no coercive action unless full opportunity is granted to everyone.

The Centre told the Supreme Court that it is contemplating taking biometrics details of over 40 lakh people, whose names did not figure in the final NRC draft in Assam, to avoid their influx to other states on false identity. "To allay the fear of states, the government is contemplating to collect biometric data of over 40 lakh people, so that if declared foreigners escapes to another state under a false identity then they may be tracked by authorities concerned," Venugopal said. To this, the bench said the government is free to do whatever it wants and the court will examine it. "You do whatever you like. At this moment, we would not like to comment. You do it, then we will examine it. Our silence is not a symbol of agreement nor assurance," the bench said. The bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman also said that the document released on Monday was just a draft. The Supreme Court, on its part, made it clear that publication of draft NRC can't form the basis of action against anyone by authorities and that the legal process will have to be followed after giving due opportunity to those whose names are missing. It further asked the central government to lay down the standard operating procedure on NRC and submit it for approval. Towards the end of the hearing, an association of transgenders requested the bench to give 20,000 transgenders a second chance to fill NRC forms. The bench said, "You missed the bus. We cannot re-open the entire exercise now". The next date of hearing is 16 August.  

The names of 40 lakh applicants did not find a place in the historic document, which was published in Assam on Monday. According to the Registrar General of India Sailesh, 2.9 crore names out of the total 3.29 crore applicants were published. The first draft of the NRC was published during the intervening night of 31 December and 1 January, and contained 1.9 crore names.

A senior home ministry official had said on Monday that the process of claims and objections to the draft NRC will start from 30 August and continue for a month. The process, if required, can be also extended by another month, he said.

During the period, no coercive action will be taken against anyone, the official said.

Union minister Rajnath Singh had also assured on Monday that no coercive action would be taken against those whose names are not mentioned in the final list. He had said, "Even someone whose name is not in the final list can approach the Foreigner's Tribunal."

No coercive action will be taken against anyone, hence there is no need for anyone to panic, the home minister said.

"Some people are unnecessarily trying to create an atmosphere of fear. This is a completely impartial report. No misinformation should be spread. This is a draft and not the final list," he added.

Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC, which was first prepared in 1951.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jul 31, 2018 22:47:06 IST