Assam: ‘Original inhabitant’ category no longer applies to final NRC draft

Assam: ‘Original inhabitant’ category no longer applies to final NRC draft

Guwahati, December 7, 2017: Supreme Court on Tuesday has ruled out ‘original inhabitant’ category from the draft of the final NRC putting to rest all speculations over acceptance of certificates.

The state coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Prateek Hajela, said on Tuesday that nobody will be categorised an “original inhabitant” in the draft or the final NRC.

Supreme Court has set aside an order of Gauhati High Court passed on February 28 which stated that certificate issued by the secretary of the village panchayat mentioned in the ‘illustrative list of documents admissible’ as a supporting document is invalid and hence ineffective in the process of verification of claims for inclusion in the NRC.

The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, however, made it clear in the judgment that the certificates issued by the GP Secretary/Executive Magistrate will be acted upon only to establish a linkage between the holder of such a certificate and the person(s) from whom legacy is being claimed. “The certificate will be put to such limited use only if the contents of the certificate are found to be established on due and proper enquiry and verification,” the judgment states.

The bench also stated that apprehensions over the term “originally inhabitants of the state of Assam” in respect of the process of updating the NRC were “wholly unfounded”.

Prateek Hajela, in a report submitted to the Supreme Court on October 10 stated that of 47 lakh applicants who claimed inclusion on the basis of certificates issued by Gaon Panchayat secretaries, only about 17.40 lakh are “original inhabitants.”

Following the SC’s judgment upholding the admissibility of certificates issued by the GP Secretary/Executive Magistrate, the NRC authority will now be required to verify the claims of about 29 lakh applicants who have submitted such certificates. This, however, is not going to create any additional burden on the NRC authority ahead of the deadline on December 31 because the SC has already set the time frame for different categories of applicants.

The All Assam Students’ Union has hailed the Supreme Court’s decision on the validity and verification of the GP Secretary certificate saying that this has now made the process of verification of the claims for inclusion in the updated NRC watertight and ensured that no immigrant can include his or her name on basis of any fake document.

Describing the SC’s judgment as “historic and bold”, the opposition Congress rushed to flay the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments at the Centre and in the state of “remaining mute spectators” and not challenging the Gauhati High Court order which the party said, had created uncertainty in respect of claims of about 27 lakh women applicants.

Political reactions notwithstanding the Supreme Court judgments removing apprehension over the issue of GP certificate, the security worries over publication of the draft of the citizenship register of Sarbananda Sonowal-led government in Assam can be expected to reduce now.

Feature image courtesy: First Post

TNT News with inputs from First Post

 


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