The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Assam National Register of Citizens Co-ordinator Prateek Hajela to be accurate and give a fair hearing to objections raised by people whose names are missing from the list, reported Live Law. However, the top court refused to extend the deadline to publish the final list, and said the process should be completed by July 31.

The court’s observation comes after a retired honorary lieutenant of the Indian Army, who had fought the Kargil war, was arrested by Assam Border Police in Guwahati and taken to the detention centre for illegal immigrants in Goalpara. Mohammed Sanaullah’s family has moved the Gauhati High Court.

“There are disturbing reports in the media,” said the bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, reported NDTV. “The media is not always wrong. Reports say how complaints are being dealt with. Hearing of objections has to be done in a proper manner.”

The Supreme Court said officers involved in verifying documents should be just and not “cut short fair hearing”. “Just because the deadline for publishing the NRC list is approaching, it doesn’t mean cut short and complete the process,” it said. “If media reports are to be believed, it is not being done properly. Please ensure proper hearing of objections.”

The stated aim of the National Register of Citizens is to separate genuine Indian citizens from undocumented immigrants 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.

More than 40 lakh people were excluded from the final draft of the NRC published on July 30, 2018. Those who did not make it to the draft list were allowed to make one last claim for inclusion before the publication of the final consolidated list. Alongside this, authorities allowed objections to be filed against people included in the final draft. The exercise has been embroiled in several controversies, including allegations of bias against certain communities.