Supreme Court questions need for NRC sample reverification

Centre, Assam had wanted July 31 deadline extended
The Supreme Court on Friday questioned the plea made jointly by the Centre and Assam to indefinitely extend the deadline for the publication of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) from July 31 to conduct a “sample reverification” to quell the “growing perception” that lakhs of illegal immigrants might have made it to the list. The Centre and Assam had urged the court for more time to cross-check “wrong inclusions and exclusions” from the draft published on July 30, 2018. They said a 20% sample reverification of the names included in the draft should be conducted in districts bordering Bangladesh and a 10% reverification in the other districts. But the court voiced its scepticism. It referred to NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela’s reports and said reverification seemed to have been done during the disposal of claims. “Mr. Hajela’s report says while disposing of claims, 80 lakh names have been reverified. That means at least 27% of names have been reverified, and you are asking for 20%… So, is there need for a sample reverification? If we are satisfied that verification has been done properly, then there is no need for a sample reverification, isn’t it,” Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who is accompanied by Justice Rohinton Nariman on the Special Bench, told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for both Assam and the Centre.

‘Mistakes have crept in’

Mr. Mehta said the findings in Mr. Hajela’s reports may not truly reflect the reality on the ground. “They must have done excellent work, but mistakes have crept in. The quantum of people included in certain areas is more… Wrongful inclusions are manifold in the bordering districts, lakhs of illegal immigrants have been included in the draft NRC list. The problem in the border districts is more,” he submitted. He said the wrongful inclusions may be because local officers were used in the NRC process. The Bench adjourned the case to July 23. It asked Mr. Mehta to go through what Mr. Hajela had to say on the issue of reverification in his reports to the Supreme Court on July 10 and 18.

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