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The Supreme Court today said that certificates issued by panchayat secretary or an executive magistrate can be used for claiming citizenship if they have been issued after conducting proper enquiries. A bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman set aside the order of the Gauhati High Court by which it had invalidated these certificates for claiming citizenship. It also said that the certificates issued by gram panchayat secretary can be a proof of citizenship provided they have details of family linkages. On November 22, the apex court had said that the certificate of residency issued by the gram panchayat is not a document of citizenship and is "meaningless" unless supported by some other valid record to make a claim for inclusion in the National Register of Citizenship (NRC). The apex court was hearing a batch of pleas challenging the Gauhati High Court order holding that a certificate of residency issued by Gram Panchayat (village council) secretary was not a legal and valid document for claim to citizenship. About 48 lakh claims have been made using certificates issued by Gram Panchayat secretaries, out of a total of 3.29 crore claims made so far for inclusion in the NRC which is being prepared in Assam to identify illegal migrants. The draft NRC is required to be published on or before December 31.
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