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Supreme Court: The Court has ordered the transfer of Assam NRC coordinator, Prateek Hajela, to Madhya Pradesh on deputation. The bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, however, did not specify the reason, behind transferring Hajela to Madhya Pradesh.

After the final list of National Register of Citizens was published in Assam, several complaints were filed against Hajela alleging discrepancies in the list. On August 31, when the final list was published, the NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela had announced,

“A total of 3,11,21,004 persons are found eligible for inclusion in final NRC, leaving out 19,06,657 persons, including those who did not submit their claims,”

.The list is aimed at segregating Indian citizens living in Assam from those who had illegally entered the state from Bangladesh.

(Source: ANI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and RF Nariman, J has refused to re-open the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam.

The Court elaborately discussed the NRC exercise as below:

  • Section 6A of the Act which was inserted with effect from 7th December, 1985 by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985 (Act No.65 of 1985), carves out a special category of citizens in the State of Assam.
  • In view of the special category of citizens so created a special procedure came to be prescribed by Rule 4A of the 2003 Rules read with the Schedule thereto in the matter of preparation of National Register of Indian Citizens in the State of Assam whereby the claims of all persons (including persons born in India) for inclusion in the NRC were to be related to the entries 19 either in the National Register of Citizens 1951 or any of the electoral rolls prepared upto the midnight of the 24th day of March,1971 or on the basis of any of the additional documents referred to earlier.
  • The above said procedure was necessitated on account of a large number of persons who acquired citizenship by virtue of Section 6A of the Act without being actually born within the territories of India. Yet, as Section 6A of the Act confers citizenship on such person(s), a special procedure, indicated above, has to be devised for inclusion in the NRC in the State of Assam. This is what was agreed upon under the Assam Accord which led to the introduction of Section 6A in the Citizenship Act, 1955 with effect from 7th December, 1985.

Considering the abovementioned procedure, the Court said,

“The entire NRC exercise having been performed on the aforesaid basis, the same cannot be now ordered to be reopened by initiation of a fresh exercise on certain other parameters that have been suggested on behalf of the intervenors/applicants on the strength of the provisions of Section 3(1)(a) of the Act.”

On the issue of the maintenance of security of the NRC data, the bench directed the Central Government to enact an appropriate regime for on lines similar to the security regime provided for AADHAR data. Only thereafter, the list of inclusions and exclusions shall be made available to the State Government, Central Government and Registrar General of India.

The Court further directed,

  • only hard-copies of the supplementary list of inclusions be published at the NRC Seva Centers, Circle Offices and Offices of the District Magistrates of the State.
  • the list of exclusions be published on 31st August, 2019 shall be published only on on-line and shall be family-wise.

[Assam Public Works v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1025, decided on 13.08.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

I appeal to all the Hindu people of both the Barak Valley as well as the Assam Valley to come together to find an amicable solution because our culture, traditions and religions are same. We should not hate each other just on the basis of language.”

-S.R. Sen, J.

Meghalaya High Court: While disposing of a writ petition concerning the difficulties faced by the residents to get Domicile Certificate (DC) and Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC), A Single Judge Bench comprising of S.R. Sen, J. opined that “National Register of  Citizens (NRC) process is defective as many foreigners became Indians and original Indians were left out.” The “horrific conditions” in Detention Camps where NRC non-qualifiers are sent also found mention in the judgment.

While dealing with the matter, the learned Judge laid focus on the plight of migrants in the State of Assam. He called out the history of formation of the State and the unfortunate partition and it’s after effects on the society. Detailing the change of territories after partition and reposing confidence in idea of India the Judge mentioned, “Pakistan declared themselves as an Islamic country and India since was divided on the basis of religion should have also been declared as a Hindu country but it remained as a secular country.” In later part of his judgment, the Judge further mentions, “I make it clear that nobody should try to make India as another Islamic country, otherwise it will be a dooms day for India and the world.”

He also requested the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Law Minister and the Members of Parliament to “bring a law to allow the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhist, Christians, Parsis, Khasis, Jainitias and Garos who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to live in this country peacefully and with full dignity without making any cut off year and be given citizenship without any question or production of any documents.”

In the same stroke the Judge made clear that, “However am not against my Muslim brothers and sisters who are residing in India for generations and abiding Indian laws, they should also be allowed to live peacefully.”

Highlighting the need of a uniform law, he said, “Anybody opposing the Indian Laws and constitution, they cannot be considered as citizens of the country. We must remember that first, we are Indians, then good human beings and thereafter comes the community we belong.”

In the instant case, the petitioner was a resident of Shillong for the last three generations and applied for domicile certificate, but it took ten months to get the domicile certificate only after the intervention of the High Court. Notifications issued by the Meghalaya Government were also brought to notice to the Court according to which for issuing of PRC, a person may be deemed to be a permanent resident if he continuously resides in the same place for not less than 12 years. This was in contravention of the guidelines passed by the Supreme Court and the High Court in earlier cases. Setting aside the notifications and following the case of Rabbe Alam v. State of Meghalaya, 2016 SCC OnLine Megh 301, the Court held that:

(i)a person residing in the State of Meghalaya permanently or at least for the last five years has got every right to apply for the domicile certificate; (ii) a person coming on transfer to serve the State can apply for DC prior to 5 years; (iii) a person residing permanently in the State of Meghalaya for the last 12 years and has an intention to reside permanently, he should be granted PRC without any further questions; (iv) DC or PRC is granted for all purposes.

The matter was disposed of with above observations and directions. [Amon Rana v. State of Meghalaya, 2018 SCC OnLine Megh 274, decided on 10-12-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton Fali Nariman, JJ., after hearing the learned counsels for the parties stated that at present the situation demands for an order to be passed that would open the process for receipt of claims and objections in respect of the final draft NRC.

The present order stated that the process for receipt of claims and objections in respect of entries in the final draft of NRC to be open and further the stated process to be started by 25-09-2018 and would remain effective for a period of 60 days. List of documents on which the claimant could rely for the process were also mentioned.

Further, Additional Solicitor General appearing for the State of Assam, Mr Prateek Hajela would provide his opinion on the permissibility of introduction of one or more above-mentioned documents. The confidential reports filed by Mr Hajela have been placed before the Court in a sealed cover. For the said report, AG Venugopal stated that a copy be made available to the Union of India. Court in its opinion stated that the report contains some confidential and sensitive data which may affect the entire process, so no information pertaining to the exercise be circulated amongst Executive, Legislature or Judicial authority; therefore it should just remain in the Court’s custody for now.  Mr Hajela’s views are to be filed within a span of 15 days. [Assam Public Works v. Union of India, WP(C) No. 274 of 2009, Order dated 19-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton Fali Nariman, JJ., in an order directed the State Coordinator for National Registration (NRC), Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India to not make any statements or undertakings in regard to the preparation of Final NRC.

The above-stated persons had issued some statement in regard to the NRC which were not appropriate and were highly improper. The Court also stated that once the Court had passed an order there could have been no room for any of the authorities to make statements in question.

Therefore, the Supreme Court further stated that the matter concerning is at the final stage where the process for publication of final NRC is to be initiated and completed. The persons concerned who had issued such statements were directed to be cautious in future and devote their time only to the assigned work.

The matter is further listed on 16-08-2018. [Assam Public Works v. Union of India,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 927,Order dated 07-08-2018]