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SC forms ex-judges� panel to handle issue

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, July 21 - The Supreme Court today sought to smoothen the process of preparation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) by ordering a number of measures, including appointing a three-member panel of ex-judges to handle the contentious issues relating to the updating process.

The Supreme Court further ordered that the affidavit filed by the families of martyrs challenging Section 3A of the Citizenship Amendment Act be referred to the Constitution Bench. The Section relates to the children of the illegal migrants whose names do not appear in the electoral rolls of 1971 or any rolls prior to that. Earlier, the Supreme Court had referred Section 6A of the Citizenship Act to the Constitution Bench.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohington F Nariman today heard a bunch of petitions on the NRC and related issues.

The Division Bench made it clear that the cut-off date of March 24 (midnight) 1971 would stay in the face of petitions demanding that the voters� list of 2014 should be included as an additional document in preparation of the NRC. This is significant in view of the Assam government�s latest interim affidavit and the petition of the Barak Valley Human Rights Society among others, which demanded that the voters� list of 2014 should be included as an additional document for NRC.

The petitioners whose pleas were heard today included the All Assam Tea Tribe Students� Association, All Assam Bhojpuri Parishad, All Assam Minority Students� Union, All Assam Students� Union (AASU), Asam Sahitya Sabha, Assam Jatiya Gana Sangram Parishad, Hindustani Samiti and Government of Assam, among others.

The court further ruled that names of residents from other states can be included in the NRC subject to the condition that they provide residential proof as per the Registrar General of India�s guidelines and those acceptable to the authorities preparing the NRC.

While disposing of the petitions, the Supreme Court constituted a three-member panel comprising former judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Aftab Hussain Saikia and former judges B Biswas and JN Choudhury to look into the problems arising during preparation of the NRC. The three-member committee will be assisted by a member secretary, to be nominated by the Government of Assam.

Any person facing problems in preparation of the NRC may report to the three-member committee of judges, which in turn will report either to the Gauhati High Court or the Supreme Court. The committee will take all steps in preparation of the NRC, the Bench ruled.

It further directed that preparation of the NRC will be in strict compliance with provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955. Rule 3(3) will clarify the original inhabitants of Assam, tea tribes and other indigenous people of Assam.

Tea tribes, indigenous people and original inhabitants residing in Assam and those whose names are not in the legacy data, will have to submit documents satisfactory to the NRC department. Any other directions, if required, would be given by the Registrar General of India.

Regarding the confusion over the final date of submission of forms, the Supreme Court declined to suggest any date, granting flexibility to the State government, but reiterated that the NRC has to be completed by January 1, 2016.

The Supreme Court will monitor the entire process and the next dates of hearing have been fixed on October 6 and 7. But the Bench directed the authorities to file the status report before the next date of hearing.

Meanwhile, talking to this newspaper, Arup Borbora, who was the Asom Gana Parishad�s counsel, said that they had filed an intervention petition and prayed that indigenous people should be protected. He said that he brought it to the notice of the Supreme Court that some petitions were filed to derail the process started by the Supreme Court.

The AGP also opposed the plea to include the rolls of 2014, describing it as counter-productive. The Supreme Court should continue to supervise the process, Borbora said.

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SC forms ex-judges� panel to handle issue

NEW DELHI, July 21 - The Supreme Court today sought to smoothen the process of preparation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) by ordering a number of measures, including appointing a three-member panel of ex-judges to handle the contentious issues relating to the updating process.

The Supreme Court further ordered that the affidavit filed by the families of martyrs challenging Section 3A of the Citizenship Amendment Act be referred to the Constitution Bench. The Section relates to the children of the illegal migrants whose names do not appear in the electoral rolls of 1971 or any rolls prior to that. Earlier, the Supreme Court had referred Section 6A of the Citizenship Act to the Constitution Bench.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohington F Nariman today heard a bunch of petitions on the NRC and related issues.

The Division Bench made it clear that the cut-off date of March 24 (midnight) 1971 would stay in the face of petitions demanding that the voters� list of 2014 should be included as an additional document in preparation of the NRC. This is significant in view of the Assam government�s latest interim affidavit and the petition of the Barak Valley Human Rights Society among others, which demanded that the voters� list of 2014 should be included as an additional document for NRC.

The petitioners whose pleas were heard today included the All Assam Tea Tribe Students� Association, All Assam Bhojpuri Parishad, All Assam Minority Students� Union, All Assam Students� Union (AASU), Asam Sahitya Sabha, Assam Jatiya Gana Sangram Parishad, Hindustani Samiti and Government of Assam, among others.

The court further ruled that names of residents from other states can be included in the NRC subject to the condition that they provide residential proof as per the Registrar General of India�s guidelines and those acceptable to the authorities preparing the NRC.

While disposing of the petitions, the Supreme Court constituted a three-member panel comprising former judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Aftab Hussain Saikia and former judges B Biswas and JN Choudhury to look into the problems arising during preparation of the NRC. The three-member committee will be assisted by a member secretary, to be nominated by the Government of Assam.

Any person facing problems in preparation of the NRC may report to the three-member committee of judges, which in turn will report either to the Gauhati High Court or the Supreme Court. The committee will take all steps in preparation of the NRC, the Bench ruled.

It further directed that preparation of the NRC will be in strict compliance with provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955. Rule 3(3) will clarify the original inhabitants of Assam, tea tribes and other indigenous people of Assam.

Tea tribes, indigenous people and original inhabitants residing in Assam and those whose names are not in the legacy data, will have to submit documents satisfactory to the NRC department. Any other directions, if required, would be given by the Registrar General of India.

Regarding the confusion over the final date of submission of forms, the Supreme Court declined to suggest any date, granting flexibility to the State government, but reiterated that the NRC has to be completed by January 1, 2016.

The Supreme Court will monitor the entire process and the next dates of hearing have been fixed on October 6 and 7. But the Bench directed the authorities to file the status report before the next date of hearing.

Meanwhile, talking to this newspaper, Arup Borbora, who was the Asom Gana Parishad�s counsel, said that they had filed an intervention petition and prayed that indigenous people should be protected. He said that he brought it to the notice of the Supreme Court that some petitions were filed to derail the process started by the Supreme Court.

The AGP also opposed the plea to include the rolls of 2014, describing it as counter-productive. The Supreme Court should continue to supervise the process, Borbora said.