SC seeks explanation from NRC head for FB post

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The Supreme Court on Monday sought an explanation from the new NRC head Hitesh Dev Sharma for his controversial remark regarding NRC and asked them to remove it and gave four weeks to reply.

The court also asked the Assam Government to look into the matter and reply within four weeks. The SC, however, did not leave any instruction about the status of NRC and pleas regarding reverification.

The Supreme Court in a hearing of the pleas filed by different organizations demanding re-verification of the names included in NRC has instructed Sarma to remove its controversial posts from his page against former Coordinator Prateek Hajela and NRC.

The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde on Monday required recently-appointed Assam NRC coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma to explain the comments posted by him on his Facebook page prior to his appointment.

Sarma’s views regarding “East Pakistani Muslims” residing in the state have been widely criticised as being indicative of his approach towards the already-controversial NRC exercise.

His comments on social media that have been the subject of contention have ranged from “I like Arnab Goswami’s logic. We cannot accept a foreigner as Indian even if he speaks Assamese”, to proclaiming that there are “lakhs and lakhs of Bangladeshis in the NRC”, to announcing that “Minority appeasement policy for the last seven decades has changed the definition of secularism.”

Last year, CJ Ranjan Gogoi had directed erstwhile state coordinator Prateek Hajela to be transferred inter-cadre to Madhya Pradesh immediately.

Even though the bench had refrained from revealing the reasons for the transfer, the apparent danger to Hajela’s life after the publication of the final NRC is being mooted as the basis of the transfer order.

“Is there a particular reason for the transfer?”, Attorney General K. K. Venugopal had wanted to know. “Can an order be without any basis?”, the then Chief Justice had responded.

Further, on Monday, the top court also issued notice to the Centre and the state of Assam on a connected plea claiming that post the publication of the final NRC, from which 19 lakh individuals stand excluded, the children so affected have been sent to detention centres.

“60 children, whose parents have been included, are excluded from the NRC even after the relevant documents were presented!”, it was urged.

“It cannot be conceived that children are being sent to detention centres! Where the parents have been accorded citizenship under the NRC, the children will not be separated and sent to detention centres”, countered the AG.

The NRC authorities have also prepared a status report of the work done so far for submission to the Registrar General of India (RGI).

Although the final NRC was published on August 31 which excluded 19 lakh, people, the rejection order has not been issued even after five months. The excluded people will be able to file appeals against their exclusion at the Foreigners’ Tribunals only with the rejection order specifying the cause of rejection.

However, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on December 23 said that the state government’s plea for re-verification of the names included in NRC is with the Supreme Court along with several petitions filed by organizations such as All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Assam Public Works (APW).

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