NEW DELHI, Nov 3 - Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi on Sunday cautioned that frequent shifting of cut-off date is like playing with fire. The CJI�s remark assumed significance because of the fresh attempts by the Centre to reintroduce the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which is expected to propose a fresh cut-off date of December 31, 2014 making the cut-off date of March 31, 1971 redundant.
�The Assamese people have displayed great magnanimity to accept cut-off date. Humaneness is acceptance. Acceptance is the first step towards diversity... People who raise objections about cut-off dates are playing with fire... There is no place for fresh wounds or conundrums,� CJI Gogoi said.
The Chief Justice of India was addressing a function here after releasing a book Post-Colonial Assam authored by journalist Mrinal Talukdar. The function was also attended by Supreme Court judge Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Centre�s interlocutor AB Mathur.
While CJI Gogoi dwelt at length on the NRC exercise and the problem of illegal migration into Assam, he was unsparing in his attack on the media, particularly the social media. �Careless or I should say irresponsible reporting by a few media outlets has only worsened the situation,� he observed.
The NRC attempted to quell the enormous amount of guesswork about illegal migration in the State, he said, adding, this �guesswork� had fuelled panic.
�The NRC is not a document of the moment. Nineteen lakh or 40 lakh is not the point... It is a base document for the future. A document on which we can determine future claims,� the CJI said.
CJI Gogoi described Assam as an ancient land unrivalled in its beauty and endowed with diversity. �A meeting place of many races and ethnic groups. Each contributing to the rich tapestry of cultures, languages,� he said.
While the children of Assam made their mark on the world stage, the State itself suffered from agrarian strikes, natural calamities such as persistent floods and widespread agitations and frequent violence which had deeply impacted sociopolitical life in the State, he said.
The NRC 2019 is an attempt to end the vicious cycles of violence and agitations in Assam over the presence of illegal foreigners, the CJI said, adding that the citizen register also attempted to give some degree of certainty on illegal influx to the State.
He admitted that the final NRC list was �not without contestations�. But the �idea of NRC was neither new or a novel idea and it had found expression as early as 1951,� he said. �Current NRC is an attempt to update the 1951 NRC. Nothing more nothing less,� the CJI added.
The CJI also lashed out at how national discourse about sensitive issues was dominated by �armchair commentators� who presented a distorted picture.
�Emergence of social media and tools had fuelled these double-speaking commentators. They launched tirades against democratic institutions... Armchair commentators with their vile intentions and rumour mills flourished. Assam and its development agenda had been victims of such commentators,� he said.
�Unrestrained mudslinging� and �personal attacks� against both institution and its members masqueraded as fair criticism in public interest, he said. �It does not take long to bring down an institution, but takes long to build one,� the CJI pointed out.