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Apex court extends deadline till Dec 31


NEW DELHI, Dec 12 - Concurring with the State Government�s plea, the Supreme Court on Wednesday extended the deadline for filing claims and objections in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) update exercise. The new date for submitting the forms has been extended from December 15 to December 31.

A Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman also extended the date of verification process of claims by another 15 days to February 15. NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela told the court that he has received 14.8 lakh claims and it is �not easy for people who are semiliterate to fill up the forms.� The Assam government, in its petition, also said that the panchayat elections in the State are another major reason for seeking more time.

In its order, the apex court said the last date for submission of claims and objections fixed on December 15, 2018, is extended to December 31, 2018. Consequently, the process of commencement of verification scheduled earlier on February 1, 2019 is shifted to February 15, 2019.

The top court told the NRC Coordinator that the draft should be made available at the local offices to enable those who want to file claims and objections.

�In so far as the prayer for filing of objections is concerned, we direct that to facilitate filing of objections against wrongful inclusions, the copies of the draft NRC should be made available for inspection of all concerned at convenient locations, i.e. office of the district magistrate and deputy commissioner, sub-divisional offices (civil), circle offices and gram panchayats,� the order said.

�We further direct that so far as the filing of objections is concerned, the same may be done at the district headquarters. The interlocutory application filed by the State stands disposed of,� it said.

The Assam government had sought the court�s permission to make available the ARN number to facilitate filing of objections.

�Having considered the prayers made and the circumstances set out, we direct the NRC authority to accept List B documents that are found to be legally valid, regardless of the date of issuance of the same,� the order said

This was in response to the petition filed by the All Assam Minorities Students Union (AAMSU) and Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind, which challenged the standard operating procedure (SOP) concerning the List B documents, claiming that genuine Indian citizens were being deprived.

The court had also accepted the SOP prepared by the Centre and the State government, and had fixed the time line for various stages in publication of the final draft NRC.

The apex court had on September 5 had allowed use any one of the 10 of a total 15 documents provided in List A of the claim form to be used by the claimants for proving legacy. The ten legacy documents which were made admissible include land documents like registered sale deed, permanent residential certificate issued from outside the State, passport and LIC insurance policy of the relevant period.

The Assam government in its petition said that people in the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys were �taking active part in the democratic process�, adding that perhaps the lack of awareness about the procedures of filing claims and objections among the people may be the reason for the fewer number of claims filed so far.

Meanwhile, Assam Public Works president Aabhijit Sarma, who is the main petitioner in the case, said that one of the reasons for the less number of claims and objections was non-availability of the ARN number. �Now that the Supreme Court has given direction to make available the documents, we will file claims and objections,� he said.

All Assam Students Union (AASU) adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya while welcoming the top court�s direction, said, �We will now go ahead with the process of filing claims and objections.�

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