The Supreme Court on Tuesday told the Election Commission to submit by March 28 an action plan to deal with instances when a person’s name is present in the voters list in Assam but not in the National Register of Citizens, The Hindu reported. The National Register of Citizens is scheduled to be published on July 31, which is the Supreme Court’s deadline.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asked the poll panel to share the latest information about the enumerations and deletions on the list. The court was hearing a plea that five categories of people in the state were being deprived of their voting rights.
The Lok Sabha elections for 2019 will be held from April 11 to May 19, and the results will be announced on May 23. Assam will vote in three phases on April 11, April 18 and April 23.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the poll panel, said that no changes were made to the electoral roll based on the draft National Register of Citizens.
On Monday, Assam Chief Electoral Officer Mukesh Sahu had said that anyone whose name was listed on the electoral rolls may vote in the Lok Sabha polls, North East Now reported.
The stated aim of the NRC is to separate genuine Indian citizens from “illegal migrants” who might be living in Assam. According to the terms, 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.
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. The Centre in December 2018 had extended by six months the date to complete updates to the draft register.
In February, the Supreme Court had accused the Centre of attempting to destroy the National Register of Citizens process, LiveLaw reported. The court had criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government for the Ministry of Home Affairs’ plea requesting a suspension of NRC work during the Lok Sabha elections.
The government had asked that work related to the register should be suspended from the date the Lok Sabha elections are notified till two weeks after polling so that the deployment of 167 companies of Central Armed Police Forces can be withdrawn.