The Supreme Court has extended the December 15 deadline for filing claims and objections to the final draft of the National Citizenship Register to December 31. According to reports, the government of Assam had approached the apex court with a request to extend the existing deadline of December 15 by another month.
An SC bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R Fali Nariman reportedly said that it is keeping in mind the pace at which claims are being filed. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta had appeared for the state government to request an extension of the deadline.
Prateek Hajela, the NRC coordinator for Assam reportedly informed the SC that after the final draft was published on July 30, a total of 14.8 claims of objections and inclusion requests have been received. The SC bench was also informed that in the last few days, the pace of filing claims and objections has increased as the deadline approaches.
As per reports, the SC bench also eased the norms for documents to be considered for proving citizenship. The court added that the people filing for inclusion can attach any acceptable citizenship documents to substantiate their claim, provided they are considered by the NRC authorities.
While earlier, most documents allowed by the NRC authorities had a required cut off date of 24 March 1971, the All Assam Minorities Students Union represented by Kapil Sibal had appealed for easing of the norms. Hearing their plea, the bench directed the NRC authorities to accept List B documents valid too, regardless of the date of issuance, provided the NRC authorities are satisfied with the authenticity and validity of the said document.
The Assam government had also appealed for an increase in sample verification of NRC data to 20% from the current 10%. But the SC bench stated that they will consider the plea later.
The court also extended the date of start of verification of the filed claims from February 1 to February 15.
It is notable here that the NRC is being implemented in Assam as a method of protecting the rights of citizens against illegal immigrants. After the final draft of the Assam NRC was published, many states and citizen groups across the country have already initiated or called for similar exercises in their respective states, especially states that share an international border.
The final draft published in July had included 2.89 crores names out of the approximate 3.29 crore citizens of the state. About 40 lakh people were excluded. The government had assured that people will be given enough time to submit their claims of citizenship and include their names in the NRC. The NRC was mandated by the Supreme Court to handle the surge of illegal immigrants in the state which threatened to change the demographic balance in border states.