Assam Govt mulls legislation to rectify flaws in NRC

Assam Govt to explore legislative options to deal with anomalies in NRC
People wait to check their names on the draft list at the National Register of Citizens (NRC) centre at a village in Nagaon district, Assam. Photo: Reuters.

New Delhi: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday indicated that the government may explore legislative options to deal with the wrongful inclusion of some names in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) after its final publication.

Sonowal said the Assam government will ensure peaceful publication of the NRC on August 31 as mandated by the Supreme Court.

"In a democracy, everyone has the right to ask questions. After the publication of NRC, if necessary in future, we will take whatever steps will be required," he told reporters after a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Sonowal was replying to a question on whether the government will explore some legislative options to deal with those whose names may be wrongfully included in the final NRC.

Last month, the Supreme Court had rejected the central and Assam governments' plea for sample re-verification to find out wrongful inclusions of names.

Sonowal said there were apprehensions about the law and order situation in Assam when the part draft and the final draft of the NRC was published in 2018.

"But with the cooperation of the people of Assam, everything went off peacefully. This time also, with the active support of the central government and as per the expectations of the people, the NRC will be published on August 31," he said.

In July last year, over 40 lakh people were excluded from the complete draft of the NRC, which contained 2,89,83,677 eligible people out of a total 3,29,91,384 applicants.

An additional 1,02,462 people were included last month in the list of excluded persons, taking the total ineligible persons to 41,10,169 in the complete draft of the document, a list of the Assam's residents.

A bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R F Nariman had also said like Aadhaar data, an appropriate regime should be enacted for securing the NRC data.

It had earlier said the final Assam NRC would be published on or before August 31.

NRC authority mulls action against Assam officials

The NRC authority is considering recommending strong action against a senior Assam government official for alleged irregularities in checking documents of people from Chamaria and some nearby areas in Kamrup district after which re-verification had to be done, sources close to the development said.

Kamrup Deputy Commissioner Kamal Kumar Baishya has sent a report to the NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela about two months back on the alleged irregularities by a former Circle Officer of Chamaria under his district which came to light in 2018.

The report noted how the then Circle Officer allegedly made all the affected people Original Inhabitants (OI) only to reduce his workload, the sources claimed.

He had allegedly ticked the OI column for all the people, including Hindus and Muslims, in the verification list, which lessened his burden for cross-checking the documents as well as the tedious process of finding out the family tree of the applicants, they said.

"It is not a corruption-related case. The DC's enquiry has found out that the official's quality of verification was very poor and he was not sincere about his duties," a source said.

The NRC (National Register of Citizens) authority was then informed about the development and after much deliberations, it was decided to hold re-verification in these areas.

"It was a good pro-active decision by the NRC authority to hold the re-verification process.

"This shows that they are serious about bringing out an error-free NRC within the deadline," a source close to the development said.

The NRC authority has taken the report very seriously and is likely to recommend strong action against the erring bureaucrat, who is an Assam Civil Services official, the sources confirmed.

Assam, which had faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC that was first prepared in 1951.

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