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NRC exercise cannot be reopened: SC

A child admiring Tricolours put on sale ahead of Independence Day, in Guwahati on Tuesday. – UB Photos
 NEW DELHI, Aug 13 - The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that the National Register of Citizen (NRC) exercise cannot be reopened to conduct a sample re-verification of data, especially in the border districts of Assam where cross-border “infiltration” from Bangladesh is high.

“The entire NRC exercise having been performed on the explicit basis, the same cannot be now ordered to be reopened by initiation of a fresh exercise on certain other parameters that have been suggested on behalf of the applicants on the strength of the provisions of Section 3(1) (a) of the Act,” said an order passed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman.

The Assam government had sought 20 per cent sample re-verification of NRC data, while the Assam Public Works (APW), the main petitioner, had sought 100 per cent sample re-verification.

Referring to State Coordinator Prateek Hajela’s plea on security of NRC data, the top court directed that an appropriate regime be enacted on the lines of what was provided for Aadhaar data. Only thereafter, the list of inclusions and exclusions shall be made available to the State government, Central government and the Registrar General of India.

“We further direct that only hard copies of the supplementary list of inclusions be published at the NRC Seva Centres, Circle Offices and Offices of the District Magistrates of the State. We also direct that the list of exclusions to be published on August 31 this year shall be published only on on-line and shall be family-wise,” the order said.

The Supreme Court further held that all persons born after December 3, 2004 will be excluded from the NRC should any of their parents be declared a foreigner by the tribunal, or if their registered voter status is under doubt.

The court also ruled that for any NRC applicant, if a parent through whom eligibility is sought to be established is a doubtful voter (DV) or doubtful foreigner (DF) or his/her case is pending before foreigner tribunal (PFT), then such persons will not be included in the NRC irrespective of the status of the other parent.

“So far as the validity of orders passed under the IMDT Act are concerned, we direct that such cases shall be governed by the decision of the Gauhati High Court in Anowar Ali v. State of Assam reported in 2014 (3) GLT 500. We make it clear that subject to orders as may be passed by the Constitution Bench in Writ Petition (C) No. 562 of 2012 and Writ Petition (C) No. 311 of 2015, National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be updated,” the court said.

About clarification on validity of orders passed under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, the court said “some of the applicants have submitted orders passed under IMDT declaring them as Indian. This matter was also referred by the deponent to the Judges Committee, however, the Committee advised the deponent to seek order from the Court on the matter. As such, directions are sought about acceptability of orders of IMDT, whether declaring the person to be Indian or Illegal Migrant.”

An extract from the order of this court dated July 21, 2015 will further clarify the issue with regard to original inhabitants of Assam as well as citizens who may have migrated from other parts of the country to Assam after March 24, 1971.

“Insofar as clause 3(3) of the Schedule appended to the Rules is concerned, we clarify that the expression ‘original inhabitants of the state of Assam’ would include the ‘Tea Tribes’ and the inclusion of such original inhabitants would be on the basis of proof to the satisfaction of the Registering Authority which establishes the citizenship of such persons beyond reasonable doubt. Any directions by the Registrar General of India in this regard shall also be followed by the Registering Authority,” the court said.

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