NRC Issue: SC Slams State Coordinator & Registrar General, Says You Should Be Jailed For Contempt

| August 7 , 2018 , 20:42 IST

The Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed the NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela and Registrar General of India Shailesh over their press statements concerning the NRC issue.

A two-judge bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman was hearing the matter. The court had scheduled the matter for August 16 but it took a immediate hearing of the matter after some statements from the NRC state coordinator and the Registrar General of India.

According to media reports, as soon as the hearing began Justice Gogoi gave some newspaper cuttings to Prateek Hajela who is the State Coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Justice R. F. Nariman asked Hajela, “What have you said. You have told the press that people left out in the final draft of NRC will get an opportunity to provide fresh sets of documents to present their credentials. You have told that at the time of claims and objections, things will start afresh again and fresh documents can be submitted.”

He continued further, “Who are you to say this? Who gave you the authority to say this? You are an officer appointed by the Court. Why did you go to the press like this?”

Turning to the Registrar General of India, Shailesh, he said, ““We should be holding both of you guilty of contempt and sending both of you to jail. You are officers appointed by this Court. Whatever you say reflects on us.”

The court observed that such statements are highly improper and touch upon matters which should have formed the subject matter of Court’s orders to be passed after submission of the standard operating procedure by the Union of India.

Earlier, during the previous hearing, the bench had observed that the NRC prepared by the government is only a draft and hence it cannot be the basis for action by any authority.

What is NRC?

The National Register of Citizens was first established in 1951 after a consensus to target illegal migration into Assam from neighbouring Bangladesh. The latest updation of the National Register of Citizens would include descendants of those whose names were in the 1951 consensus list or those who were in Assam's Electoral rolls till March 24, 1971.

In addition, descendants of those who can prove citizenship till March 24, 1971 as well as those who came to India between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971, and registered themselves with the Foreigners Registration Regional Officer would also be considered Indian citizens.

The National Register of Citizens was launched with a goal of documenting the verifiable citizens of India, to crackdown on and prevent illegal immigration, especially from nearby Bangladesh. The application process was launched in May 2015 and 6.5 crore documents were received from 68.27 lakh families in the state of Assam.

Currently, Assam is the only state having an NRC as it faced an influx from Bangladesh since the early 20th century.

What is Assam Accord?

In 1979, All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) had launched an agitation during which it demanded that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh be identified and deported.

Assam Accord of 1985 that states all illegal foreigners who came to Assam after 1971 from Bangladesh irrespective of religion have to be deported. This accord also fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of their religion.

Signatories to the Assam Accord included Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, President, All Assam Students Union, Bhrigu Kumar Phukan, General Secretary, All Assam Students Union, Biraj Sharma, Gen Secretary, All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad, Representatives of Governments of India and Assam for Representatives of Assam Movement, R D Pradhan, Home Secretary, Government of India, P P Trivedi, Chief Secretary, Government of Assam and signed by former PM Rajiv Gandhi.