New Delhi, May 8: The Centre today told the Supreme Court that it had decided to fix January 1, 1966, as the cut-off date for inclusion of citizens’ names in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to prevent illegal migrants from staying on in Assam.
Additional solicitor-general Mohan Jain and counsel Manmeet Kaur sought three months’ time from the bench of Justice H.L. Gokhale and Justice Ranjan Gogoi to complete the formalities and the court acceded to it.
According to the Centre, the modalities are being worked out on the basis of the recommendations made by the Assam government. It said Assam had submitted revised modalities, giving clarifications to the central government in January 2013 regarding update of the NRC 1951.
According to the modalities suggested by the Assam government, applications would be invited from all residents of the state along with relevant documents in a time-bound manner. After scrutiny of the applications, names of original inhabitants of the state and their children and descendants will be included in the consolidated list.
The Centre said in an affidavit that according to the modalities, the consolidated list would include names of persons who entered the state between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971 but were declared foreigners by the foreigners tribunals and this was on record. While it would also include those who had been declared bonafide Indian citizens by the tribunals, those who were declared foreigners and had entered the state on or after March 25, 1971 would not make it to the list.
Earlier, the apex court had sought responses from the Centre and the Assam government on the basis of two PILs, calling for quashing of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act to prevent entry of foreigners into Assam and the country.
The petition filed by Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha and two others had complained that the impugned provision was discriminatory and unconstitutional in that it permitted entry of foreigners into Assam till March 25, 1971, whereas the cut-off date for the rest of the country, as prescribed under Article 5 and 6 of the Constitution, was July 19, 1949. It contended that the proviso promoted and protected illegal migrants and that Section 6A had been enacted specifically to protect those entering Assam illegally from Bangladesh and was, therefore, discriminatory.
In a related development, chief minister Tarun Gogoi today requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to help expedite the NRC update process to fulfil the consensus arrived at in the May 2005 tripartite meeting involving the All Assam Students’ Union.
Dispur, which is awaiting the Centre’s nod on the revised modalities, is facing flak for the update delay.
Gogoi also requested Singh to increase the number of foreigners tribunals from the existing 36 to 100, as this was inadequate to dispose of the pending cases, thus leading to harassment of genuine Indian citizens. A proposal in this regard was sent to ministry of home affairs on September 11 last year.