GUWAHATI: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the State NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela to remain unperturbed by the recent discussions and debates on the NRC update exercise and keep focus on publication of the final NRC by August 31.
The Apex Court’s observation came in view of the recent developments on the NRC update exercise inside and outside the Assam Assembly. The ruling BJP ministers and MLAs had criticized the role of Hajela in updating the NRC and accused him of carrying out the exercise autocratically by keeping the public representatives in dark.
A Special Bench of Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R F Nariman while hearing the NRC update case, categorically told Hajela to ignore criticism of the NRC process inside and outside Assembly and focus only on his job of publication of the final NRC by August 31. CJI Ranjan Gogoi said the SC has come to know about development inside and outside Assembly regarding the NRC update from a letter of the leader of the Opposition. He said the court is also aware that a few ruling party MLAs were critical about SC.
“As far as the statement of the leader of Opposition is concerned, we do not need to go into it. When some orders are being passed by the judges or the court, some people criticise them,” the apex court said. “Our orders, our actions are being subjected to debates and criticism every moment. We are not bothered by it. If we will go into all this, we will never complete the task,” it added.
The top court said it was not bothered about what was being said about the NRC exercise. “What we want is that let the NRC come out within the deadline of August 31. Who like it, who do not like it, we do not bother,” the bench said. At the outset, the bench interacted with NRC coordinator and told him that perhaps, he is seeking suggestion for maintaining the secrecy of the data collected during the exercise.
The Supreme Court on Thursday also heard a few crucial issues pertaining to the Citizenship Act. According to the Citizenship Act, in the event of one of a couple being an Indian, their sons and daughters born before December 3, 2004 will be considered Indians. The same Act also says that people born after December 3, 2004 will not be considered Indians if one of their parents is an Indian and the other parent is an illegal migrant. The NRC authority sought clarifications from the SC on such provisions of the Citizenship Act before publication of the final NRC.
The SC also heard that when those declared Indians under the now-abrogated IM(DT) Act could be enrolled in the final NRC. Since the IM(DT) Act had been scrapped by the SC in 2005, the State NRC authority did seek a directive from the apex regarding the acceptability of rulings (opinions) given under the IM(DT) Act.
The SC reserved its judgment on both the Citizenship Act and abrogated IM(DT) Act.
AASU chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharjya who was present in SC hearing, said the students’ organization will continue to oppose giving Indian citizenship to anyone who entered India after March 25, 1971 as per the Assam Accord. He, however, reposed full faith in SC.