Centre, Assam Move SC Over NRC 'Sample Re-Verification,' Deadline Extension

In separate but similar pleas before the court, the state and Centre have urged the bench to move the date of publication of the final from July 31 to a "future date”.

New Delhi: Owing to the “unprecedented large scale of complexities” in the NRC process, the Central government on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court to push the deadline for the final publication to a “future date” and urged for a sample re-verification of names included in the draft published last July. The Assam government also made a similar but separate application before the apex court.

The final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is due to be published on July 31, 2019.

According to a report in The Hindu, the Central and state governments have sought a 20% sample re-verification of the names in districts bordering Bangladesh and a 10% sample re-verification in the remaining districts in Assam.

The Centre’s plea stated that the sample re-verification being sought was both for inclusions and exclusions. It pointed out that while 2,89,83,677 people were included in the final draft, the number of objections received was only two lakh.

Assam said in its application that an “additional exclusion list” was issued on June 26. This list contained 1,02,463 names which had been earlier included in the draft NRC list.

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The state government had earlier, in August 2018, filed an affidavit suggesting re-verification as a means to address the growing concerns about the exclusion of genuine Indian citizens as well as the inclusion of illegal immigrants. The applications took note of this affidavit.

In response, the Supreme Court had passed an order stating: “we are of the view that the court should consider the necessity of carrying out the sample re-verification of at least 10% of the names included in the final draft NRC”.

Following this, the Assam government filed a second application in October 2018 “seeking re-verification of samples to be done and completed before proceeding further with claims and objections.” The state also and urged the formation of a “high-level committee for identification of criteria and prepare guidelines for re-verification exercise to be carried out by the state coordinator and monitor the same closely.”

The state has now indicated the failure of the court to pass an order for re-verification as yet.

The bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Aniruddha Bose Deepak Gupta said that it will examine the request for an urgent hearing sought by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

The application has also sought that the ‘sample re-verification’ be “conducted by Class I officers of the state government from other districts who have knowledge and experience of handling the process of enquiry/investigation”. The Supreme Court has also been urged to pass an order “directing the venue of sample re-verification be undertaken at the place different from the place where the NRC exercise had taken place,” Indian Express reported.

In its application, the home ministry pointed out that the process of NRC has been fraught with concerns and could very well end up impacting social harmony, and law and order in Assam. According to Indian Express, Centre stated: “the list prepared after this exercise will be final and will have a critical impact on the people whose names may not be included in the same. It is therefore pertinent that the exercise of sample verification must necessarily follow before the publication of the final list”.

The applications have been filed despite repeated orders from the apex court to end the NRC process on July 31.