The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended to December 31 the deadline for filing claims and objections for inclusion of names in the National Register of Citizens for Assam by those who have been left out in the draft NRC.
The draft NRC was published on July 30 in which names of 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore people were included. The names of 40,70,707 people did not figure in the list. Of these, 37,59,630 names have been rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 are on hold.
A special bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R F Nariman considered the plea of Assam government that the deadline of December 15, fixed for filing claims and objections by those left out in the draft NRC, be extended by till January 15 next year.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Assam government, said that out of 40.70 lakh left out persons, so far 14.28 lakh persons have filed the claims and objections with the authorities for inclusion in the NRC.
There has been surge in such applications in last few weeks and hence, the deadline be extended by one more month, he said.
The apex court, however, said that it would extend the deadline by another 15 days and now the left out persons can file their claims and objections till December 31.
It also made clear that the deadline for verifying the claims for inclusion in the NRC would be now February 15, 2019 instead of February 1.
The bench also ordered that the copies of the draft NRC be made available for inspection by common people at District Collector, subdivisional, circle, gram panchayat offices so that people can either seek inclusion or object to wrongful inclusions in the NRC.
The bench took note of submission of senior advocate Kapil Sibal that NRC authorities are not considering legally valid documents, which have come into being after August 31, 2015, for verifying claims for inclusion. August 31, 2015 was deadline for registration of names in the draft NRC.
"We direct the NRC authorities to accept such documents which are legally valid and permissible regardless of the date of issuance of such documents," the bench said.
Earlier, the apex court had allowed the use of five more documents by claimants for the draft Assam NRC, saying the premise "better to exclude genuine person than to include a wrongful person" can't be accepted.
It had over-ruled the objections of state NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela that the documents to be relied upon to stake claim such as refugee registration certificate and ration card can be forged.
The claimants for draft Assam NRC can now stake claim with the help of total 15 documents provided in List-A of the claim form.
The five new documents allowed by the bench to prove the legacy for the claimants include extract of names in NRC, 1951; extract/certified copy of Electoral Rolls up to the midnight of March 24, 1971 and Citizenship Certificate and refugee certificate issued by competent authority (up to March 24, 1971 midnight).
The other two legacy documents include Certified copies of pre-1971 Electoral Roll, particularly, those issued from Tripura and the ration card.
The court had also accepted the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) prepared by Centre and had fixed the time line for various stage in publication of draft final NRC.
The apex court had on September 5 had allowed use any one of the 10 of a total 15 documents provided in List-A of the claim form to be used by the claimants for proving legacy.
The ten legacy documents which were made admissible include land documents like registered sale deed, permanent residential certificate issued from outside the State, passport and LIC insurance policy of the relevant period.
The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 in accordance with the top court's direction. Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated then.
Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state to have an NRC, first prepared in 1951.