The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a residency certificate issued by gram panchayat Secretary to a married woman for inclusion of name in the National Register of Citizenship should be accepted as a supporting document.
"... the certificates issued by the gram panachayat Secretary/Executive Magistrate will, however, be acted upon only to establish a linkage between the holder of such certificate and the person(s) from whom legacy is being claimed," a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said.
The issuance of the residency certificate is a supporting document for further inquiry on the claim to be included in the NRC being prepared for Assam.
"The certificate will be put to such limited use only if its contents are found to be established on due and proper enquiry and verification', the court added.
Speaking for the bench, Justice Gogoi said: "The certificate issued by the panchayat Secretary merely acknowledges the shifting of residence of a married woman from one village to another. The said certificate by itself by no means establishes a claim of citizenship of its holder.
Pointing out that this has been made clear in the "illustrative list of documents" specifying it to be "only a supporting document", the court said that the residency certificate with details of lineage is to be used for the limited purpose of providing a linkage after due enquiry and verification.
In another related matter, the bench in a separate order sought to dispel the notion that the original inhabitants of Assam included in the NRC were a superior class of citizens and were entitled to some benefits in the matter of opportunities for education and employment vis-a-vis those who are not original inhibitants.
"All such apprehensions are wholly unfounded. The exercise of upgradation of the NRC is not intended to be one of identification and determination of who are original inhabitants of Assam," the court said.
It pointed out that the sole test for inclusion in the NRC is citizenship under the Constitution of India and under the Citizenship Act, including Section 6A thereof.
"Citizens who are originally inhabitants/residents of Assam and those who are not are on par for inclusion in the NRC," the court said while seeking to erase any doubt about the exercise being undertaken to update the NRC for Assam.
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