NEW DELHI, Aug 7 - The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up two senior Assam-cadre bureaucrats for speaking to the media about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) without informing the court.
National Register of Citizens (NRC) State Coordinator Prateek Hajela was asked to focus on an error-free NRC, instead of giving interviews to the media.
The bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman warned Hajela and the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India (RGCC) Shri Sailesh, to be �cautious in future�. Hajela was quoted by the media as saying that any valid document would be accepted as proof of citizenship during the hearing of complaints and objections by those left out in the draft NRC.
Taking suo motu cognizance of Hajela's interview to a national daily, Justice Gogoi said: "Where is the necessity, scope and authority in you to make such a statement? Your job is to carry on with the draft and prepare the final NRC."
Displeased over the action of Hajela, Justice Nariman said, �speaking for myself I was appalled by your action� and �don�t forget you are an officer of the court.�
�Whatever you say it reflects on us�, the bench asked, �Should we send you both to jail for contempt,� the Bench told Hajela
Hajela was told that he was first an officer of the Court and should not have spoken to media about the NRC.
�It is most unfortunate on your part as well as the RGCC. Your job is to prepare the final NRC. Your job is not to go to press holding brief for somebody,� the Bench said.
The court reminded RGCC that on an earlier occasion too he was warned by the court on his actions vis-a-vis preparation of the NRC.
�And we had warned you before�, Justice Gogoi told Sailesh.
At the outset of the hearing, Justice Gogoi, holding the copy of the newspaper in which Hajela had given the interview about the ongoing exercise for preparing the final NRC for Assam, asked him �what is this�.
�Are you in any manner concerned with the claims and objections? What is this question of new documents�, Justice Gogoi asked Hajela telling him that his job was only to carry on with the draft NRC and prepare final citizens register.
Justice Gogoi also read out the order passed by the court in its last hearing on July 31.
In its last order on July 31, the court had said , �... what has been published is only the Complete Draft NRC which naturally being a draft cannot be the basis of any action by any authority.�
After hauling up Hajela and RGCC Sailesh for exceeding their brief and speaking to media, the court said that next hearing of the matter would take place on August 16, when the Supreme Court would consider the SOPs being prepared by the Centre for dealing with claims and objections to draft NRC.
It will also pass further orders regarding the time schedule and different steps that would be undertaken for preparing final NRC.