The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended the deadline to file claims and objections in the National Register of Citizens process in Assam from December 15 to December 31, Bar & Bench reported. The top court said the verification process will begin on February 15.

The final draft of the register, published on July 30, had left out nearly 40 lakh people, including some MLAs and a former chief minister. Those excluded will come under the purview of the Foreigners’ Tribunals and will have to prove their citizenship or face unlimited detention if they fail to do so.

In November, the Supreme Court had said the process should finish by December 15 and set a deadline of January 15 for issuing notices to claimants and February 1 for the verification of document. By the end of November, however, only 20% or about 8 lakh people had reapplied in the claims process.

On Wednesday, the court directed the authorities to give selected officials access to application receipt numbers to ensure the filing of objections against wrongful inclusions.

The register

When the exercise was launched in 2015, 3.29 crore people applied to get their names on it. The stated aim of the exercise is to separate genuine Indian citizens from “illegal migrants” who might be living in the state.

According to the terms of the exercise, anyone who cannot prove that they or their ancestors entered the state before midnight on March 24, 1971, will be declared a foreigner. The exercise has been embroiled in several controversies, including allegations of bias against certain communities.