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The Supreme Court today pulled up the Central Government for purportedly delaying the finalisation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The Court also remarked that it is not inclined to suspend NRC work till the Lok Sabha elections 2019 are over.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi censured the Centre stating that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) appeared to be inclined to discontinue the NRC work.
“The impression is that the MHA is not willing to continue the work. Entire effort of the MHA seems to be to destroy the NRC process.“
These observations were made after the Centre, through Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought suspension of NRC work from the last date of filing nominations till the date of polling for the upcoming 2019 General Elections.
The Bench, also comprising Justice Rohinton Nariman, observed that the Government of India is not cooperating in the matter.
“If you want NRC work to go on, there are 1001 ways the Government of India can co-operate. Government of India is not cooperating.“
The Court stated that it was not inclined to pass any orders on the suspension of NRC work during Elections, adding that the Election Commission must consider deployment of adequate number of officials for ensuring that both election and NRC work are carried out together.
“Election must be held peacefully and orderly. NRC work should also be carried out peacefully and orderly. Is it too much to do? Both the exercises are important for the country“, remarked CJI Gogoi.
The matter will now be heard in the first week of March 2019.
The Draft NRC for Assam came under the Court’s scanner last year, following protest over non-inclusion of names. The Draft submitted before the Court in July 2018 had a total of 2,89,83,677 persons included, leaving a total of 40,70,707 as ineligible for inclusion. Out of the aforesaid 40,70,707 names, 3, 59,630 names were rejected and 2,48,077 names were kept on hold.
On it being presented before the Court, the Bench made it clear that no coercive action should be taken against persons on the basis of this Draft.
Along with the cases concerning the Assam NRC, the Court is also hearing another plea calling for State to update the NRC for Tripura. In Tripura’s case, the petitioners have submitted that it is necessary to update the NRC to identify illegal immigrants, delete them from voters lists, and subsequently deport them from India to restore the “socio-economic, socio-cultural and socio-political equilibrium of Tripura.” The Court had issued notice in this case in October 2018.