Arguments: 10th April, 2019

The Division Bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi (then Justice) and Justice Rohinton Nariman is monitoring the National Register of Citizens (NRC) under the Citizenship Act 1955 and Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Card Rules) 2003.

 

In the last hearing on 13th March, more human resource deployment was requested by Mr. Prateek Hajela, the NRC Assam State Co-ordinator for completing the NRC list by 31st July 2019 deadline. The Court took cognisance of the request but did not pass any specific order for redeployment of human personnels and security forces from their present election duty.

 

Today, the hearing was on an application which sought the Court to issue directions to ensure that affected families excluded from the 1st draft of the NRC are heard in their area of residence.  Mr. Prateek Hajela  addressed the Bench. He clarified that in checking claims of objections filed by people excluded in the first NRC draft, there are two types of hearing:

  1. family tree hearings, where excluded individuals have to establish that their ancestors were Assamese Residents before the cut-off date of March 24, 1971
  2. family based hearings, where the excluded individuals were married to someone in India

Mr. Hajela said that in the case of family tree hearings, efforts are being made to conduct hearings in the district of current residence (of the majority of the parties).

 

CJI Gogoi did not pass any order for easing the travel burden of affected individuals. However, he directed the State Co-ordinator to take steps to ensure that maximum convenience is provided to affected individuals going for the NRC verification process.  

 

Mr. Kapil Sibal appearing for the intervenors prayed for the use of video conferencing. Chief Justice Gogoi said that it would be difficult to use teleconferencing facilities due to the poor infrastructure in the North East. Then, Mr. Sibal requested the court for the use of Whatsapp video by the individuals who cannot travel to far off places for verification. The Court did not accept the prayer.

 

The Court asked the State-Coordinator Prateek Hajela to file a report before the next hearing on the steps taken to ease the difficulties faced by the residents in the NRC verification process. The matter has been posted for 8th May. 

(Court Reporting by Siddhartha Iyer and Abhishek Sankritik)