Supreme Court says it will not extended final NRC deadline

Written by Sabrang India | Published on: March 18, 2019
On Wednesday, March 13, the Supreme Court of India repeated that it would not extend the final deadline for Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is July 31, 2019. A Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton F. Nariman issued the order while hearing a writ petition from Assam Public Works, and noted that it had "perused and considered the report" filed by the NRC State Coordinator, Prateek Hajela, and had also heard from Hajela and the Attorney General. 

Supreme Court

The order stated, "No specific difficulty in carrying out the work of NRC up-gradation has been brought to our notice to require any further orders. We, accordingly, direct the State Coordinator to continue with the work to meet the deadline already set by this Court for final publication of the NRC i.e. 31st July, 2019, which, we have made clear, will not be extended under any circumstances." The Bench added that it would "assemble again at 3.00 p.m. on 10th April, 2019, for passing of any further order as may be required. The State Coordinator will submit a report of work done till date."

Per PTI, after Hajela submitted that some officials working on the NRC had been assigned poll duty, the Bench said, "We will not extend the deadline for publication of final NRC on July 31, 2019. Lok Sabha polls and NRC work can go on simultaneously". Hajela also said, "Till elections in the state are over, I have to work with current set of people. But after the polls, more people will be needed for the NRC work. I will also be needing IT people for quality checks and data entry to meet the deadline of July 31". The Bench responded, "All we are concerned is meeting the deadline of July 31. After the polls more manpower and technology support will be provided. How you do the work is your concern," PTI reported. 

Attorney General K. K. Venugopal, representing the government, told the court about the Union Home Ministry-issued circular stating that the 167 companies of Combined Armed Police Forces (CAPF) "would continue to secure the ongoing NRC process in Assam," The Hindu reported. 

On February 5, the Court had said that the Centre was "hell bent" on delaying the NRC process, in response to the government saying that the 167 CAPF companies needed to be moved out of Assam and deployed in other parts of the country for election duties, The Hindu reported, adding that the Court had accused "the government of 'trying to destroy the NRC process.'" Justice Gogoi had then stated that "the NRC was as important as the elections and both need to be conducted simultaneously," The Hindu noted. 

A draft of the NRC was published on July 30, 2018, in which the names of more than 40 lakh people in Assam were excluded, setting off a lengthy and complicated claims and objections process, as well as a correction process for those whose names were included. Frequently, people have been marked as 'Doubtful Voters' or  have been declared 'Foreigners', and lodged in detention camps for minor discrepancies on official documents, creating a humanitarian crisis in Assam. A hearing process is still underway in the state. 

The Court’s order may be seen here: