NEW DELHI, Oct 18 - In a surprise move, the Supreme Court on Friday transferred National Register of Citizens (NRC) State Coordinator Prateek Hajela to Madhya Pradesh on deputation for a maximum permissible period. Incidentally Madhay Pradesh is Hajela�s home state.
The three-paragraph order of the Supreme Court Bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and also comprising justices SA Bobde and Rohinton Nariman, however, did not cite any reason for the move.
�Upon hearing Prateek Hajela, State Coordinator, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General and also taking into account the totality of the facts of the case, we order for the inter-cadre transfer of Hajela to the State of Madhya Pradesh on deputation for the maximum period permissible under relevant rules and regulations.
�The notification consequent to the above direction will be issued by the competent authority of the Union of India and State government forthwith and in any case within seven days from today,� the Bench stated.
The matter is now going to come up for further hearing before the court on November 26.
The CJI is retiring on November 17.
When Attorney General KK Venugopal asked the Bench whether there is a reason for this, the CJI replied: �No order will be without a reason.�
Speculation was rife over the apex court�s action, as Hajela today also submitted a report before the court. Security threat to Hajela has emerged as the most plausible explanation for his transfer out of Assam.
When contacted by this newspaper, Hajela declined to make any comment pointing out the gag order issued by the Supreme Court.
The State NRC Coordinator has come under relentless attacks both from the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress, besides NGOs and organisations.
Last month, at least two FIRs were lodged against Hajela, for alleged discrepancies in the final updated NRC, police said.
A lawyer and the indigenous Muslim students� organisation � All Assam Goriya-Moriya Yuva Chatra Parishad (AAGMYCP) � filed separate FIRs against Hajela in Dibrugarh and Guwahati, they said.
Chandan Mazumdar, whose name does not figure in the final NRC list, filed the complaint against Hajela at Dibrugarh Police Station. Mazumdar alleged that he had submitted all documents, but his name was not included in the updated NRC due to �inefficiency and criminal conspiracy of the employees�.
Another complaint was lodged against the State Coordinator at Guwahati�s Latasil Police Station on Tuesday by the AAGMYCP, claiming �deliberate� anomalies in the final list. �Names of many indigenous people were excluded from the list, and it was done deliberately by the NRC State Coordinator,� the FIR filed by the students� organisation stated.
The police, however, are yet to register a case based on the second FIR.
Meanwhile, talking to newsmen, All Assam Students� Union (AASU) adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said, �Today, Hajela has been transferred out and we welcome the Supreme Court order.� The Assam government should now appoint a competent officer in his place, he added.
He said that they were cooperating with the NRC exercise but were unhappy when the final list was announced.
�The NRC is incomplete. We had demanded re-examination of the first draft list after it was published,� recalled Bhattacharya.
�We had pointed out several anomalies in the NRC list. Hajela did not examine the list and neither did he have the list examined by bringing officials from neighbouring districts, as per directions of the court. Hajela failed to take the entire process forward according to the direction of the apex court,� said Bhattacharya.
Meanwhile, Aabhijit Sharma of the Assam Public Works (APW) said that the apex court ensured Hajela�s safe rehabilitation by transferring him out of Assam. He alleged that thousands of indigenous people suffered while lakhs and lakhs of illegal migrants got themselves included in the NRC.
�Hajela should be held accountable for each and every anomaly he was involved in,� said Sharma.
Meanwhile, the ruling BJP has opposed the transfer of State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela from Assam till he submits details of the expenditure of Rs 1,600 crore incurred in connection with the NRC update process.
Reacting to the apex court�s latest move, State BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass said though the party always respects the Supreme Court, it wants a full disclosure from Hajela, along with proof, regarding the expenditure incurred in the update exercise.
Accusing Hajela of �trivializing a burning issue of Assam�, the State BJP president said that the party will request the Central and State governments to approach the Supreme Court against Hajela�s transfer.
�Hajela has so far not submitted any account of the Rs 1,600 crore released by the Central government for the NRC update exercise. We request the Central and the State governments to approach the apex court so that Hajela is not relieved from his duties till he gives proper account of the expenditure incurred along with necessary proof,� he said.