In its recent order, the Gauhati High Court has asked the coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to give reasons about how the name of a petitioner got registered in the Register despite the fact that at the same time, proceedings against her were continuing.
A double- judges bench of Justices Manojit Bhuyan and Soumitra Saikia observed: “Let the NRC Coordinator of the Assam State file a comprehensive affidavit and explain the reason along with requisites that how the National Register of Citizens may have been made by individuals who are considered as undeserving and not legally entitled to be get registered in the National Register of Citizens.”
The order was passed in a writ petition filed by Rahima Begam, a resident of Nalbari District, against an order of the Foreigners’ Tribunal, mentioning her as a foreigner of the post-1971 stream.
The Court stated that the Petitioner’s name came in the NRC even when a case against her is in process and continued on the basis of reference made by the Superintendent of Police (Border), Nalbari.
“Such insertion of the name is contrary to the law,” remarked the bench.
The court stated the matter is of great importance and it is not the only instance, in as much as, the court has noticed and recorded a number of issues of similar nature.
The coordinator was ordered to file the affidavit within 3 weeks on October 19.
What is NRC?
The NRC process was originated in 1985 when the Rajeev Gandhi led Union Government along with the leaders of Assam entered into the 1985 Assam Accord. It was followed by the massive opposition by the Assam Students Union for six years which demanded the deportation of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
All those who entered the borders of Assam after 25th March 1971 (also known as the cut-off date), the date of the Bangladesh war, were considered as illegal immigrants.
The Accord was considered as a part of the statute by the insertion of Section 6A in the Citizenship Act 1955 amended in 1985.
For determining oneself as a citizen of India, one has to prove that he was residing in Assam even before the cut-off date or has to prove that his ancestors had stayed in Assam before such a date. This can only be proved through the submission of Government approved documents.
The process is inoperative for the past three decades. The rules for updating Assam NRC were framed only in 2003.
It again came to light and was staunchly opposed when the two- judges bench comprising of Justice Ranjan Gogoi (as he was then) and Justice R F Nariman rejected the PIL which was filed by NGO Assam Public Works in 2009.
The process was being under the operation of this bench of the Supreme Court.
The first draft list came in December 2017 followed by the second draft lift on July 31, 2018