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SC admits APW petition on �excess voters�

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Nov 22 � In a significant development, the Supreme Court has admitted the civil writ petition filed by Assam Public Works (APW) that called for deletion of �excess voters� from the electoral rolls ahead of the forthcoming Assembly polls.

A three-member Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia and comprising �Justice Aftab Alam and Justice KS P Radhakrishnan over ruled the plea for more time submitted by the Central Government�s counsel. �

Among other demands, APW has made a plea for putting on hold the Assembly polls in Assam scheduled next year, citing presence of illegal migrants in the voters� list.

Alleging presence of 40 lakh excess voters in the State, APW has sought intensive revision of rolls and deletion of names of suspected illegal migrants from the rolls. The Governments of India, Assam and the Election Commission of India are respondents in the petition that was filed in 2009.

The Government of India has called for dismissal of the petition, contending that it was not strong enough and valid, while Assam Government too opposed the petition and countered the APW�s claim of unusually high increase in voters in the State.

On the other hand, the NGO has claimed that during the 19 years from 1972-1991, the percentage of increase of voters in Assam was 88.88per cent, with an annual growth rate of 4.67 per cent.

Abhijit Sarma of APW told this newspaper that �the Supreme Court had remarked that it was an important issue, while admitting the petition. The petitioner was represented by Praveen Swarup and Tejinder Singh Doabia.

�Without taking the path of agitation and making it a political issue, APW has taken recourse of legal means to highlight the issue,� said Sarma.

The writ petition has urged the Supreme Court to direct the Governments of India, Assam and Election Commission to identify and delete names of all illegal migrants from the latest rolls and to undertake and complete the exercise with outmost urgency, so as to ensure that the next Assembly polls are held on the basis of �corrected� electoral rolls.

The petitioner said the Assembly polls may be deferred if the revision process is not completed fully. It also wanted the apex court to ask the government and the Election Commission to take necessary measures to ensure that only the names of bonafide citizens are enrolled in the voters� list.

APW has also sought an one-time operation by adopting the modality, as designed by the petitioner, so as to regularise all pre-March 5, 1971 Bangladeshis along with lineage, as Indian citizens and to identify the post-March 24, 1971 illegal migrants, as foreigners and delete their names from the electoral rolls, as �D� Category voters, in substitution of the modality being proposed by the Government purportedly to update the National Register of Citizens 1951.

In its counter-affidavit, the State Government has stated that identification of people, who came before March 1971 is still in progress.

Assam Government has submitted that �relentless action� continues to be taken to detect foreigners. To prevent disappearance of declared foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunal, detention camps have been set up at Goalpara, Kokrajhar and Silchar, where they are to be kept until their deportation.

Further, the process of finger printing and photographing of declared foreigners has commenced in order to keep track of them, besides undertaking deletion of their names from the electoral rolls.

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SC admits APW petition on �excess voters�

NEW DELHI, Nov 22 � In a significant development, the Supreme Court has admitted the civil writ petition filed by Assam Public Works (APW) that called for deletion of �excess voters� from the electoral rolls ahead of the forthcoming Assembly polls.

A three-member Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia and comprising �Justice Aftab Alam and Justice KS P Radhakrishnan over ruled the plea for more time submitted by the Central Government�s counsel. �

Among other demands, APW has made a plea for putting on hold the Assembly polls in Assam scheduled next year, citing presence of illegal migrants in the voters� list.

Alleging presence of 40 lakh excess voters in the State, APW has sought intensive revision of rolls and deletion of names of suspected illegal migrants from the rolls. The Governments of India, Assam and the Election Commission of India are respondents in the petition that was filed in 2009.

The Government of India has called for dismissal of the petition, contending that it was not strong enough and valid, while Assam Government too opposed the petition and countered the APW�s claim of unusually high increase in voters in the State.

On the other hand, the NGO has claimed that during the 19 years from 1972-1991, the percentage of increase of voters in Assam was 88.88per cent, with an annual growth rate of 4.67 per cent.

Abhijit Sarma of APW told this newspaper that �the Supreme Court had remarked that it was an important issue, while admitting the petition. The petitioner was represented by Praveen Swarup and Tejinder Singh Doabia.

�Without taking the path of agitation and making it a political issue, APW has taken recourse of legal means to highlight the issue,� said Sarma.

The writ petition has urged the Supreme Court to direct the Governments of India, Assam and Election Commission to identify and delete names of all illegal migrants from the latest rolls and to undertake and complete the exercise with outmost urgency, so as to ensure that the next Assembly polls are held on the basis of �corrected� electoral rolls.

The petitioner said the Assembly polls may be deferred if the revision process is not completed fully. It also wanted the apex court to ask the government and the Election Commission to take necessary measures to ensure that only the names of bonafide citizens are enrolled in the voters� list.

APW has also sought an one-time operation by adopting the modality, as designed by the petitioner, so as to regularise all pre-March 5, 1971 Bangladeshis along with lineage, as Indian citizens and to identify the post-March 24, 1971 illegal migrants, as foreigners and delete their names from the electoral rolls, as �D� Category voters, in substitution of the modality being proposed by the Government purportedly to update the National Register of Citizens 1951.

In its counter-affidavit, the State Government has stated that identification of people, who came before March 1971 is still in progress.

Assam Government has submitted that �relentless action� continues to be taken to detect foreigners. To prevent disappearance of declared foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunal, detention camps have been set up at Goalpara, Kokrajhar and Silchar, where they are to be kept until their deportation.

Further, the process of finger printing and photographing of declared foreigners has commenced in order to keep track of them, besides undertaking deletion of their names from the electoral rolls.