NEW DELHI, Dec 1 - When it rejected the plea for extension of the deadline in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) issue, the Supreme Court was apprehensive that the Centre might seek a second extension in the future for publication of the draft NRC.
�At the very outset, we would like to mention that to a pointed query made by Justice Rohington Fali Nariman as to whether if extension prayed for is to be granted, there could be a request for further extension in the future, the Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal has submitted that such a possibility cannot be ruled out and, if required, further time will be sought,� the Supreme Court was told.
The AG has submitted that fixing a date for publication of the draft NRC is really an executive function and an order to that effect by the Court would be an encroachment on the executive domain and violation of the doctrine of separation of powers.
The contention advanced before the Court for the first time overlooks the fact that over a period of three years, the Court has been monitoring the matter and fixing an appropriate timeline for completion of different phases of the exercise of updating the NRC. Even on the last date of hearing, when December 31 was fixed for publication of the draft NRC, the contentions now advanced were not made before the Court, the Supreme Court order said.
That apart, it is sheer inaction on the part of the executive in dragging the matter for a period of over three years and the absence of any justifiable cause to hold back even a partial publication that has led the Court to direct publication of the draft NRC on or before December 31, the Bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohington Fali Nariman said.
The AG has further submitted that part publication of the draft NRC would result in a law-and-order situation as a large segment of the people would understand that their names have been excluded from the draft NRC. �We do not see how the situation can even remotely arise as we have already indicated that 47 lakh persons and 29 lakh persons are still pending and would be subject to verification and covered by publication of another draft NRC at a subsequent point of time,� it said. The additional contentions advanced by the AG do not commend for acceptance, it added, rejecting the plea.
The order further said that the State NRC Coordinator, Prateek Hajela, has submitted that by December 31, scrutiny of about 2 crore claims is likely to be completed.
In the application filed by the Registrar General of Citizen Registration, the remaining claims to be verified have been placed in three categories. They include 38 lakh persons where doubts have arisen in respect of certain documents and particulars, 47 lakh persons where doubts have arisen in respect of parental linkage after undertaking matching of the family tree of an applicant. Thirdly, cases of 29 lakh people belonging to the category of married women who have submitted Gram Panchayat secretary certificates are kept in abeyance.
On being asked, Hajela has submitted that so far as the claims of 38 lakh people, instructions have already been issued to complete the process by January 15. �We accordingly direct Hajela to complete the process on or before December 31 by deployment of additional manpower and resources,� the Bench ordered.