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Hajela updates top court on NRC data

Hajela

Guwahati, Oct. 12: The co-ordinator for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Prateek Hajela, today told the Supreme Court that of the 48 lakh people whose panchayat certificates were invalidated by the Gauhati High Court, 17.4 lakh have been identified as original inhabitants. The rest are being examined.

Today, a Supreme Court bench, comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Navin Sinha, heard a special leave petition (civil) filed against Gauhati High Court regarding its invalidation of the 48 lakh panchayat certificates.

Once a person is recognised as an original inhabitant, there will be no hurdle in including his/her name in the updated NRC.

Countering the figures given by Hajela, the advocates appearing on behalf of the petitioners asked about the criteria to identify the original inhabitants, on the basis of which they had prepared the report.

They demanded that the criteria and definition to identify original inhabitants should be clearly stated.

However, the judges noted the arguments and fixed November 15 for the next hearing of the case.

In August, Hajela had told the court that he had expected that around 20 lakhs (of 48 lakh persons) to be original inhabitants.

If it is proved that these persons are original inhabitants, it will not require any proof or inquiry. Moreover, the names of all these persons would be included in the draft NRC.

On the instructions of the president of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, Maulana Syed Qari Usman Mansoorpuri and the general secretary of the Assam unit, Maulana Syed Mahmood Asad Madani, the organisation had been fighting the case under the guidance and leadership of its president, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, on behalf of two women, Rupajan Begum and Monowra Begum, in the Supreme Court.

They challenged the Gauhati High Court judgment delivered on February 28 this year, invalidating panchayat certificates for NRC enrolment, which has affected about 48 lakh people of Assam, specially women.

The two women were victims of the Gauhati High Court judgment.

A team of senior advocates, comprising B.H. Marlapalle, Raju Ramachandran, Ejaz Maqbool, N.H. Majarbhya and A.S. Tapader, are appearing in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Assam unit of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind.

The court added that the cases of the people who were claiming citizenship on the basis of linkage certificates would depend upon the parameters ultimately laid down by it.

The court also rejected an impleadment application filed on behalf of Assam PCC and made it clear that no further impleadment applications would be entertained.

The All Assam Students' Union today said a faultless NRC would be possible only under the supervision of the Supreme Court.

The students' union said the Supreme Court should continue its supervision till the final NRC is published.

The court had asked Assam government to publish the draft updated NRC by December 31. Altogether 68 lakh families of the state have submitted their forms with 6.5 crore documents to update their names in the NRC.

After the hearing, AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya told reporters that an updated NRC would be the chief safeguard for the indigenous people of Assam. He said from beginning of the process, the students' union and 28 indigenous organisations have been actively cooperating in the process.

Bhattacharjya said illegal Bangladeshi migrants were trying to include their names in the NRC and a few of them have been arrested.

This week, AASU and 28 organisations met Hajela here to take stock of the process of the NRC update.

The Congress last week requested the Registrar-General of India to go by the Assam Accord cut-off date for detection and deportation of foreigners and not emphasise the ambiguous original inhabitants category during verification of applicants for inclusion in the NRC.

Apology accepted: The Supreme Court today accepted an unqualified apology by a man against whom it had issued contempt notice for making certain public statements on the publication of the NRC, reports PTI.

"Never ever do it again," a bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R.F. Nariman warned Abhijeet Sarma, who had filed a petition in the name of Assam Public Works, an NGO.

At the outset, solicitor-general Ranjit Kumar told the apex court that prima facie Sarma's statement at a press conference amounted to criminal contempt.

"It is a criminal contempt because it is interference in the judicial proceedings which is being monitored by this court," he said.

Sarma's counsel apologised on his behalf and said he never intended to say such things as he has been pursuing the case for last eight years. "Though the statement made in press by the alleged contemnor appears to be ill-advised and in a way contemptuous, we are of the view that having regard to the unqualified apology tendered by the alleged contemnor, we accept the same," the bench said.

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