The Supreme Court tentatively accepted on Wednesday a list of 10 documents that can be relied upon by authorities while dealing with claims of those who have been left out of the draft National Register for Citizens (NRC) for Assam.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman asked the Centre to give its views on the list within two weeks. Around 4 million names are missing from the draft NRC that was mandated by the court as part of an effort to identify illegal migrants in the state.
The 10 documents were placed before the court by NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela following an earlier direction from the bench. Hajela chose the documents that were a part of the Centre’s standard of procedure (SOP) prepared to deal with claims and objections. He sought deletion of five other documents mentioned in the SOP.
The documents, which mostly need to have been issued before midnight on March 24, 1971 to be valid, include: land documents such as registered sale deed, records of land rights; permanent residential certificate issued from outside the state; passport issued by the Government of India; Life Insurance Corporation of India insurance policy; any licence/certificate issued by any government; birth certificate; educational certificate by boards of universities are valid. Documents that can also show that a person held a government job, a bank/post office account or if his or her name figured in records/processes pertaining to a court till March 24 will also be taken into account.
Attorney general KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said he was in agreement with Hajela’s list. He said he would come back with a formal reply. Until further orders, the court said, the date for people to file applications of claims and objections shall stand deferred. It was supposed to have started on August 30. It posted the matter for further hearing to September 19.
At the last hearing, the judges had noted that the Centre’s SOP would lead to “undesirable consequences” and could effectively mean restarting the whole process. This could lead to an anomalous situation as the entire “family tree” would be changed by a person if he is allowed to file additional documents, the court said, asking Hajela to give his view on the SOP.
“Having considered the aforesaid statement made by the learned Attorney General, we are of the considered view that at this stage what has been set out above should be sufficient for the Union of India and the other stake-holders to indicate their views in the matter within two weeks, whereafter orders as may be appropriate will be passed,” the court ordered.
Hajela is now also required to give his views on the top court’s suggestion to explore the possibility of re-verifying 10% of the NRC data to ensure it is error-free.