Only 10 of the 15 documents originally permitted to prove citizenship may be allowed to be filed with claims and objections by the people whose names have been left out of the final draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Supreme Court decided today. However, the documents can be accepted subject to establishment of authenticity by certification from concerned issuing authority.
A Bench of the top court comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton F Nariman has sought the response of the Centre and other stakeholders. However, stakeholders like AIUDF and Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind were dismayed with the curtailment of the five documents.
At least 10 documents from the list of 15 have been suggested by the State Coordinator of NRC, Prateek Hajela for dealing with the claims of about 40 lakh people for their inclusion in the list, the Bench noted.
The 10 documents chosen by the State NRC Coordinator include land documents, permanent resident certificate, passport, LIC policy, any licence, documents showing government service, bank, post office accounts, birth certificates issued by competent authority, education certificate, and records and processes pertaining to court.
The Supreme Court asked the Centre and other stakeholders to respond to Hajela’s suggestion within two weeks. It then fixed September 19 as the next date of hearing.
The stakeholders include Assam Public Works, Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Progressive), Indigenous Tribal Peoples Federation, All Assam Bhojpuri Parishad, Joint Action Committee for Bengali Refugees, All Assam Minorities Students Union (AAMSU) and Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind among others.
When Attorney General KK Venugopal forcefully said that the Centre has a larger interest and should be given a copy of the NRC State Coordinator’s report to articulate its response, the Bench told him that it is not necessary to give a copy to the Centre at this stage. Hajela had submitted a report to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover.
“The Government of India may be interested. We want to balance the interest of all the stakeholders,” the court told Venugopal, as he insisted that “the Government of India is extremely interested” in knowing the report.
“Having considered the statement of the Attorney General, we are of the view that at this stage what has been set out should be sufficient for the Government of India and the other stakeholders to indicate their views in the matter within two weeks, whereafter, orders as may be appropriate will be passed,” the order said.
Meanwhile, the date of filing of claims and objections has been further deferred from August 30. “Naturally, until further orders, the date of commencement for receipt of applications of claims and objection shall stand deferred,” the order said.
The Supreme Court by its August 16 order had asked the eight stakeholders to submit their views on the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) prepared by the Centre setting out modalities for the claims and objections to final draft NRC.
Hajela’s report today was in pursuance to August 28 order asking him to appraise it of the ramification of the Centre’s position that the people left out of the final draft NRC be given another chance to establish their claim for inclusion in the citizens register.
The court had asked Hajela to submit a “comprehensive report indicating the feasibility including the time taken and the advantages and disadvantages that may accrue if the modification of legacy is permitted.”