New Delhi, Aug. 23: The Supreme Court today recorded an undertaking from the Centre that it will complete the process of finalising the modalities relating to upgrade of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) with the Assam government within eight months.
A bench of Justice H.L. Gokhale and Justice Ranjan Gogoi recorded the undertaking given by additional solicitor general Rakesh Khanna and the Assam government’s senior counsel, Jaideep Gupta, and posted the matter for further hearing to October 18.
The apex court passed the order after Khanna informed the bench that the Centre had, in principle, accepted the modalities as recommended by the state government in making entries in the NRC.
According to the Centre, a meeting was held in the first week of August with the registrar general of India, the ministry of home affairs and the government of Assam to finalise the modalities of the NRC process and also the time required for completing it.
The RGI said Dispur would have to undertake the process of development of software and also selection of vendors for data entry. This task will take at least nine to 10 months.
However, the apex court granted an eight-week timeframe to finalise the modalities or even much earlier.
On May 8, the Centre had told the court that it has decided to fix January 1, 1966, as the cut-off date for inclusion of citizens’ names in the National Register of Citizens.
According to the Centre, the modalities are being worked out on the basis of the recommendations made by Dispur.
It said Assam had submitted revised modalities on the update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) 1951 to the Centre in January this year.
According to the suggestions made by Dispur, applications will be invited from all the residents in Assam, along with relevant documents, in a time-bound manner.
After scrutiny of applications, the names of persons who are originally inhabitants of Assam and their children and descendants, who are citizens of India, shall be included in the consolidated list if the citizenship of such persons is ascertained beyond reasonable doubt and to the satisfaction of the registering authority.
Those who came to Assam on or after January 1, 1996, and before March 25, 1971 and were declared foreigners by the foreigners tribunals and after such declaration got them registered with the registering authority and who have been declared bona fide Indian citizens by the tribunals shall be eligible for inclusion in the consolidated list.
“However, those persons who have been declared illegal migrants/foreigners by the foreigners tribunals who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971, shall not be eligible for inclusion in the consolidated list, the Centre said in an affidavit.
The apex court was hearing two PILs which mainly sought quashing of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, to prevent entry of illegal migrants into the state and the country.
The petition, filed by Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha and another NGO, complained that the impugned provision was discriminatory and unconstitutional in that it permitted entry of foreigners into Assam till March 25, 1971.
For the rest of the country, the cut-off date as prescribed under Articles 5 and 6 of the Constitution is July 19, 1949.
It was contended that the impugned provision promotes and protects these illegal immigrants and is, therefore, discriminatory.
The organisation sought that Section 6A should be struck down and an update of the National Registry of Census (NRC) in Assam be made taking 1951 as the base year.
The petitioners told the court that Section 6A of The Citizenship Act, 1955 inserted into the principal Act vide The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985 (Act No 65 of 1985) be struck down as illegal and invalid.