* The final NRC must be free from names of Bangladeshis: Samujjal Bhattacharya
NEW DELHI/ GUWAHATI: The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the ground for stretching the deadline for publication of the final NRC beyond July 31 in view of the ensuing Parliamentary elections even as the apex court asked Assam Chief Secretary, NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela and Election Commission to meet within the next seven days to work out a mechanism as how to carry out both the crucial tasks simultaneously.
Even though Prateek Hajela submitted before the Supreme Court that in view of the Parliamentary elections the publication of the final NRC may stretch to the end of September 2019, the court clearly rejected the ground and said the deadline for publication of the final NRC cannot be extended beyond July 31 under any circumstance.
“The preparation of final NRC and the election should receive equal importance and proceed simultaneously without one affecting the other. What should be the optimum number of State Government employees presently engaged in NRC work who can be legitimately continued in such work and what should be the number of such employees who can be taken out for election duty without affecting the NRC work is a matter that has to be sorted out between the learned State Coordinator, the State Government and the Election Commission,” a Special Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton F Nariman said.
The Bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to organize a meeting of EC, Assam Chief Secretary and the State NRC coordinator and submit a report within a week and posted the matter for further hearing on February 5.
The apex court’s order and observation came after the Solicitor General, representing Assam government, pointed out that during the elections the State administration will virtually be at the service of the EC and it will have to spare as many officials as asked for by the poll panel. Mehta said in the process NRC work might get affected.
Earlier, Hajela had told the Bench that he might need additional hands to complete the task by July 31 as desired by the court. The NRC Coordinator, however, said the court should give him a grace period of 15 days as many officials might get diverted to election work.
On the other hand, Hajela submitted before the Supreme Court that out of 40 lakh people left out of Draft NRC, 36.2 lakh had filed their claims and around two lakh objections had been received by December 31, 2018 — the deadline for filing of claims and objections fixed by the apex court.
He said the process for verification of claims and objections would start on February 15 and every affected individual would be given a 15-day notice before his/her case was taken up.
The complete draft NRC list was published on July 30 last year in which 2.89 crore names out of the 3.29 crore people were included while 40,07,707 people failed to make it to the list. Of those left out 37,59,630 names had been rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 were put on hold.
Welcoming the SC directive, the advisor-in-chief of AASU Samujjal Bhattacharya said the final NRC must be free from names of Bangladeshis. “The NRC is the greatest opportunity to solve the vexed foreigners’ problem in Assam by detecting and deporting those entered the State after the midnight of March 24, 1971. Everyone should wholeheartedly participate in the final exercise and make it a perfect document to identify the genuine Indian citizens,” Bhattacharjya said.