NEW DELHI, Aug 16 - The Supreme Court today partially heard the case relating to validity of the residency certificates issued by gaon panchayats. The case is again scheduled to come up for hearing on August 24.
A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Navin Sinha heard the counsels of the petitioners, including Rupajan Begum, All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU), Assam State Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Assam Women Social Justice Forum and others.
The Gauhati High Court on February 28 ordered that residency certificates issued by gaon panchayat secretaries will no longer be considered as a valid link document for National Register of Citizens (NRC). �If a panchayat secretary issues such certificate and the same is later disbelieved by the Foreigners Tribunal or High Court and the certificate holder is eventually declared as a foreigner, the issuing authority would run the risk of issuing the certificate to a foreigner,� the order said.
�Such an act may be construed to be an act of harbouring an illegal migrant, which may amount to a gross misconduct exposing himself to departmental action besides attracting penal consequences. Such consequences may also visit the counter-signing authority (which is the BDO),� the order stated.
It was noted that the NRC office has till date received nearly 45 lakh such link documents signed by panchayat secretaries (rural) and circle officers (for urban areas) after the Registrar General of India approved it.
The court also observed that it was necessary on the part of the State government to create new certificates ostensibly for married women to enable them to show linkage with their parents.
The matter of issuance of residency certificate came to the notice of the court while hearing a case of �foreign national� who moved the court on the strength of similar certificate. The court ruled that the panchayat secretaries have �no authority to issue such certificates.�