NEW DELHI, Oct 26 - The Supreme Court today directed the States, besides Ministries of External Affairs, Finance and Home Affairs to expedite the process of verification of documents forwarded by the Office of the in-charge for updating of National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The orders of the Apex Court�s Division Bench, headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohington Fali Nariman, came in response to a status report submitted by Prateek Hajela, Nodal Officer on updating of the NRC on Wednesday.
Quoting Hajela�s affidavit, the Supreme Court remarked that the status report makes no mention about any dateline or no commitments. The cost of the project has escalated to Rs 908.7 crore from the initially projected Rs 288 crore. But till date Rs 337.73 crore has been spent. The Government of Assam has a provision of Rs 249 crore.
Hajela, in his report mentioned that he was left with no funds and the Centre should immediately release additional funds. The Court directed the Home Secretary and Ministry of Finance to look at the issues of funds and released the same as required. The Government of India may release the funds, if required in instalments, the Court ordered.
Hajela in his report said that they have despatched 30.59 lakh documents to 28 States for verification purpose but in return have received only 8,223 responses.
The Supreme Court ordered Chief Secretaries of all States to take the matter seriously and send the verified copies to the NRC Department. If they fail, the court warned that it will issue orders for personal appearance in court.
The Apex Court further directed the Ministry of External Affairs to take up the verification process seriously after Hajela reported that not a single document sent to foreign countries have responded.
The Court directed the Ministry of External Affairs to contact Indian mission and ask them to cooperate with the NRC Department in the verification process.
The Election Commission of India was also directed to expedite the verification process after it was reported that 1083919 documents were sent to the Commission but till date there was no response.
The Nodal Officer had also send 14.8 lakh PAN cards to the Finance Ministry but only 6.5 lakh verification were done. The Finance Ministry was also directed to expedite the verification process.
The case will now come up for further hearing on December 15.
Later talking to newsmen, All Assam Students� Union adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya said that they have full faith in the Supreme Court. �We want a flawless NRC but the Bangladeshis are trying to get their names included in the register,� he said,
�We want the provisions of the NRC to be watertight,� said the adviser.
Aabhijeet Sarma of Assam Public Works (APW), one of the petitioners, said that they are happy that the Court is taking the matter seriously. �Now all depends on the Court and the State coordinator.�