Guwahati: A prominent member of the high-powered committee on the implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord has told The Wire that now that the report is complete, those involved are waiting to see when it will be made available in the public domain. On Thursday, it was reported that the high-powered committee had told the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that the report has been finalised. The onus is therefore now on home minister Amit Shah.
Clause 6 is of the Accord says:
“Constitutional, Legislative & Administrative safeguards as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”
The member said the committee spoke to more than 1,500 representatives from all quarters, and report has a plethora of information on how constitutional safeguards on Assamese identity can be put in place. The member also said while as of now it cannot be said whether the report has been leaked, there are “people who may leak” it.
“Once it is available in the public domain, the report will be a mine of information. Some of the viewpoints expressed are unbelievable. Once the report is given to the Central government, there should be no bar on accessing it. The high-powered committee was announced in parliament, so it will be laid before the parliament. It cannot be made public before it is laid before parliament,” the member said.
“But before that, it may be out if the government decides it is not necessary to place it before parliament. Once it is tabled before parliament, parliamentary privilege applies and one cannot discuss it. Right now, the budget session is on and hence the report cannot be brought out in public before it is laid in parliament,” the continued.
The member said the committee is committed to make the report public. “If the report is accepted, it will have an impact on people’s lives. So at least they should know what’s in it. It’s possible not everyone will agree – so they may come out with another political document. Or another report may be authored that is based on our report.”
On February 10, the 14-member high-powered committee had finalised its report. It is about 91 pages long and was supposed to be submitted to Shah on February 11, four days before the committee’s term expired. However, media reports said Shah has not given the time to the committee members yet. Instead, Satyendra Garg, the joint secretary in charge of the Northeast at the home minister, has asked the committee to make some changes to the report.
On multiple occasions over the last more than five months, the committee met with several representatives from different organisations as well as individuals and recorded their views.
The committee was formed in July 2019 and given six months to submit its report. The deadline was later extended by one month.
Committee chairman Biplab Kumar Sharma, a retired judge of the Gauhati high court, told media on February 10, “Today is a happy day for us. We have completed our report. We held discussions with several organisations and individuals, and we have considered various aspects before finalising the report. We have made recommendations that could help safeguard Assamese identity.”