FATE OF OVER 40 LAKH
Centre moots biometric data collection of over 40 lakh applicants whose names haven’t figured in NRC
GUWAHATI, July 31: The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it is contemplating on collecting biometric data of 40 lakh people whose names have not figured in the complete draft NRC to prevent them from doing a possible vanishing act even as the Apex Court has warned the government of refraining from taking any coercive action against such persons.
A day after the complete draft NRC containing names of 2, 89, 83,677 applicants and excluding names of over 40 lakh applicants was published Attorney General KK Venugopal, on behalf of the Centre, submitted before the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the government was contemplating on collecting biometric details of the over 40 lakh people excluded from the draft NRC as they might shift to other States after being declared as foreigners.
A bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohington F Nariman, while hearing the plea of the Centre, refused to comment. “At the moment we will not express any opinion…Our silence is neither consent, nor agreement or assurance. We will consider,” the Bench said.
On other hand, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to frame standard operating procedures (SOP) to deal with claims and objections exercise of NRC in a free, fair and transparent manner so that names of all genuine Indians could be included in the final NRC. The court asked the Centre to finalize the SOP for deciding claims and objections for inclusion and exclusion in the NRC by August 16, the next date of hearing.
The apex court said the process adopted has to be fair and every affected person has to be given adequate opportunity to be heard before his/her claims and objections are disposed of. The Bench said once the SOP is prepared it will approve it if the process adopted is fair, else it will correct it.
Attorney General assured the apex court that no coercive action would be taken against anyone until the claims and objections were disposed of after giving them an opportunity to present evidence and proper hearing. Earlier, the court warned and ordered the Centre not to take any coercive action against those whose names are not there in the draft NRC as it is only a draft.
Meanwhile, State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela submitted before the court that persons whose names did not figure in the draft NRC, can go to NRC Sewa Kendras and Local Registrars from August 7 to find out as to why their names did not figure in the draft.
Hajela said people can file their claims and objections between August 30 and September 28, 2018 before 2,500 Local Registrars, who will be Gazetted Officers. As the Bench asked if it had been advertised, Hajela said all relevant information would be advertised in newspapers to inform people.
On being asked about the date for publication of the final draft NRC, Hajela said no date has been fixed and it would be done only after approval of the apex court.