New Delhi, December 13: Giving chances on chances to claim their citizenship, the Supreme Court has once again extended the date for submitting claims and objections to the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam till December 31. The decision was taken by the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R F Nariman who had earlier set the date to December 15.
Extending the date, the bench said it was doing this “keeping in mind the rate at which the claims are being received”. Appearing for the state, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, sought one-month extension, but the court granted time only till December 31. Assam NRC coordinator told the bench that so far 14.8 lakh claims had been received and that the rate of receipt of claims had increased in the past few days as the deadline was drawing to a close.
With the last date for filing claims extended, the court said that the process of verification of these claims and objections, which was slated to start from February 1, will also stand postponed to February 15.
The All Assam Students Union, meanwhile, has told the court that there were problems with filing objections against wrongful inclusions, as currently the draft was available only in NRC Seva Kendras and those visiting it were at risk of being physically targeted.
The Supreme Court has also finalised a set of standard operating procedure (SOP) for disposal of claims and objections in the updation of the NRC. The draft NRC was published on July 30 and included the names of 2.9 crore people out of the total applications of 3.29 crore. There has been a huge controversy over exclusion of 40 lakh people from the draft NRC.
The update of the NRC, the massive exercise to identify genuine Indian nationals living in Assam, excluded over 40 lakh people from the draft list published on July 30, creating a huge political controversy. The exercise is aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in the state that borders Bangladesh was carried out only in Assam, which faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century.
When the NRC was first prepared in Assam way back in 1951, the state had 80 lakh citizens then. As per the 2011 census, Assam’s total population is over 3.11 crore. The process of identification of illegal immigrants in Assam has been widely debated and become a contentious issue in the state’s politics.