The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it will not withdraw central forces deployed in Assam to ensure that the National Register of Citizens procedure is undertaken smoothly, ANI reported. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s Ministry of Home Affairs had earlier petitioned the court for a suspension of NRC work during the Lok Sabha elections.
The Supreme Court had, in February, accused the Centre of attempting to destroy the National Register of Citizens process. The government had asked that work related to the register 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are notified till two weeks after polling so that the deployment of 167 companies of Central Armed Police Forces can be withdrawn. “We are sorry to say but the Ministry of Home Affairs is delaying the NRC work, the court had said. “We are left anguished. The MHA seems hell bent on destroying the NRC.”
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Supreme Court 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 poll panel told the court that it had not deleted names from the electoral rolls in Assam based on their exclusion from the draft National Register of Citizens.
The National Register of Citizens is scheduled to be published on July 31, which is the Supreme Court’s deadline.
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.