‘Serious, Fundamental Errors’: Assam NRC Coordinator Moves SC for ‘Re-verification’ of 2019 List

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Assam’s state coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) Hitesh Sarma has filed an appeal before the Supreme Court to pass directions for a “complete, comprehensive and time-bound re-verification” of the NRC published in 2019.

In his application filed on May 8, Sarma has argued that there were several “serious, fundamental and substantial errors” in the list, leading to inclusion of ineligible persons in it, The Indian Express reported.

“… the present draft and supplementary list for inclusion and exclusion of NRC that has been published is not free from errors. Thus, the draft NRC needs to be revisited by ordering a comprehensive and time bound re-verification of the same,” his application stated.

Urging the top court that re-verification be done under the supervision of a monitoring committee in respective districts, Sarma suggested that the committee may be represented by the district judge, district magistrate and police chief concerned.

Published in August 2019 under direct supervision of the Supreme Court, the NRC excluded around 19 lakh people from around 3.3 crore applicants.

But NRC authorities have not yet been issued rejection orders, with which they can appeal against the exclusion at the state’s Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs). The FTs will then decide if the person concerned is a foreigner or an Indian citizen, keeping the citizenship status of over 19 lakh people in a lurch.

Sarma stated the present job under updation of NRC “is to issue rejection slips to the claimants whose claims were rejected during the claims and objections period to facilitate them to file appeal before the Foreigners Tribunals”.

“With profound respect, the applicant considers it as his bounden and sacred duty to apply his mind into the whole process instead of doing it mechanically from the stage where his predecessor had left.”

Sarma’s demand aligns with the BJP-led state government’s stance on the NRC.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had earlier this week said that in the border districts, “we want a re-examination of 20% names included, and in other districts, that of 10% names”.

The BJP’s manifesto for assembly polls had stated they would initiate the “process of the correction and reconciliation of entries under the Supreme Court-mandated National Register of Citizens in a structured manner to protect genuine Indian citizens and exclude all illegal immigrants”.

2019 NRC not ‘final’

Sarma stated that the NRC published in 2019 was not “final”, adding that the rejection slips will be issued against proper rejection orders after the final publication of the NRC.

Sarma further said the errors were conveyed to the RGI several times, but no decision has been taken in the matter yet.

The development comes after the RGI wrote to the Assam government in March, saying that funds allocated for preparation of the NRC were approved for completion of the exercise by March 31.

It had sought clarification on why an additional sanction of Rs 3.22 crore per month beyond the date of March 31 is needed.

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