The Indian Union Muslim League has filed an application seeking direction to the Centre to clarify whether the National Register of Citizens will be prepared countrywide, and if the NRC and the National Population Register are linked, Live Law reported. It has also filed a new application in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the Centre’s January 10 notification bringing the Citizenship Amendment Act into force.
The application referred to the statements Union Home Minister Amit Shah has made on several occasions, saying that the Citizenship Amendment Act is the precursor to the National Register of Citizens. A statement by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju in the Rajya Sabha, that the National Population Register is the first step towards NRC, was also mentioned in the plea.
The application also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad later made statements denying any link between the NRC and the NPR, and distancing themselves from any plans made to conduct a nationwide NRC.
“Such contradictory statements given by the Ministers of the Union Respondents are creating a widespread confusion and panic among people at large,” the plea said. “Therefore the Respondent Union must clarify their stand and halt any proceeding in relation to the said NRC and NPR process till this present writ is pending before the honourable court.”
The Indian Union Muslim League was the first party to file a petition against the Citizenship Amendment Act, even before Parliament passed it on December 11. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear around 60 pleas against the law on January 22.
Citizenship Amendment Act, NRC and NPR
The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it. At least 26 people have died in the protests – 19 in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka.
The National Register of Citizens is, on the other hand, a proposed exercise to identify and distinguish undocumented immigrants from Indian citizens. One such exercise, carried out in Assam last year, led to the exclusion of 19 lakh people.
As first reported by Scroll.in, the NPR is the first step to creating an all-Indian National Register of Citizens which would identify undocumented migrants residing in India. Till now, West Bengal and Kerala have suspended the NPR, while five Congress-ruled states are mulling similar action.