The Supreme Court on Wednesday deferred until further orders the process of considering claims and objections in connection with the National Register of Citizens in Assam, PTI reported. The process was to begin from August 30 and end on September 28, but the top court postponed it last week.

The draft, published on July 30, had left out nearly 40 lakh people, including some MLAs and a former chief minister. In August, state coordinator of the register, Prateek Hajela, said that those left out would get an opportunity to submit fresh sets of documents during the claims-and-objections process.

Hajela submitted a report to the bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman on Tuesday, recommending that claimants be allowed to use 10 of the 15 documents to file claims and objections. The Centre has currently allowed 15 documents as part of the standard operating procedure.

The Supreme Court asked the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled central government and other stakeholders to submit their response to the suggestion within two weeks and scheduled the next hearing for September 19.

Attorney General KK Venugopal asked the court for a copy of Hajela’s report but the court said it was not compulsory to share the document with the Centre.

On August 16, the Supreme Court had asked Hajela to submit a detailed report on the people excluded from the draft document in a district-wise categorisation. On August 7, the court had rebuked Registrar General of India Sailesh and Hajela for speaking to the media about the draft document without informing the top court first.
On August 28, the court had ordered a re-verification of 10% of the people who were included in the draft list as a sample survey to ensure there were no discrepancies in the draft.

The register

The stated aim of the counting exercise is to separate genuine Indian citizens from so-called illegal migrants who might be living in the state. According to the terms of the exercise, anyone who could not prove that they or their ancestors had entered the state before midnight on March 24, 1971, would be declared a foreigner.

Launched in 2015, it involved processing the applications of 3.29 crore people who hoped to be included in the register. Over the course of three years, the mammoth exercise has been through several controversies, including allegations of bias against certain communities.