People who have been excluded in Assam’s National Register of Citizens, or NRC, list do not lose any rights till they have exhausted all legal channels available to them, a Union Home Ministry note has said. The note, issued after about 1.9 million people were excluded from the citizens’ list, said the state government has also made arrangements to provide legal aid to the poor and needy through the district legal services authorities. It also said that people who are not in the final NRC list, will not be detained.
Here is a ready reckoner on the NRC list and the steps taken by the government.
The Government has facilitated the judicial process of filing appeals by setting up 200 new Foreigner Tribunal from the first week of September 2019. This increases the total tribunals in the state to 300. Another 200 Foreigners Tribunals will also be made functional by December, 2019.
People excluded from the citizens’ list can file an appeal before a Foreigner Tribunal within 120 days. “The tribunal will be a judicial process,” a home ministry note said. The decision by a tribunal can be appealed against in the high court and Supreme Court.
Assam’s national register of citizens was prepared in 1951 after the census by recording particulars of all the persons enumerated during the decadal census. The government had taken the decision to update NRC 1951 at a tripartite meeting held in 2005. The cut-off date for inclusion in the NRC was fixed 24th March 1971, the date fixed in the Assam Accord for identification and deportation of illegal migrants who have come from East Pakistan (Bangladesh) into Assam.
On the directions of Supreme Court in a 2009 petition, the Registrar General of Citizen Registration ordered on 6 December 2013 commencement of the exercise of NRC updation in Assam. This exercise was to be completed in three years.
The national register of citizens is implemented by state government officials; nearly 52,000 officials were deployed for this exercise.
The government document said the central and state government requested the Supreme Court in October 2018 and July 2019 to extend the deadline for publication of the final NRC but the top court did not accept this request.
In Assam, the NRC is an application-based process. The applications from all the residents of Assam were called by the Authorities. Each applicant was mandatorily required to furnish documentary proof of residence of self or the ancestors (legacy person) in Assam (or any other part of India) on or before the said cut-off date, through one of the stipulated legacy documents, the home ministry note said.
These legacy documents primarily consist of extracts of NRC 1951 or Electoral Rolls upto 24 March, 1971 and 12 documents stipulated in the approved modalities. In respect of descendants of the person who resided in Assam (or any other part of the country) prior to 24 March, 1971, there was a requirement to provide evidence of linkage with the said ancestor (legacy person).
In all, the government received 68,37,660 applications to seek inclusion of 3,30,27,661 (33 million) people. In all, 40,70,707 (4 million) people were considered ineligible to be included in the draft list. Of these, claims for inclusion were received from 36,26,630 (3.6 million) people. In addition, there were 1,87,633 people who were included in the draft list but there were complaints that they did not qualify the eligibility criteria.
An additional draft exclusion list issued on 26 July named 1,02,462 more people. In the final NRC list published on 31 August, there were 3,11,21,004 (31.1 million) people while 19,06,657 (1.9 million) people who had applied, were kept out.