Friday, December 8, 2023

NRC in Assam: Supreme Court tells petitioner to come back with structured reliefs

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The Supreme Court has adjourned hearing on a petition seeking its intervention to stop the alleged harassment of people belonging to religious and linguistic minority communities in Assam in the guise of detection and deportation of alleged foreigners.

The Bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli directed Senior Counsel Sanjay Hegde, representing the petitioner, to come back with more structured reliefs in the petition, as the prayers in the present petition were set out in a haphazard manner. 

The Apex Court further said on Monday that in exercise of jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution, it would not be possible to review an order of the Apex Court as prayed in the present petition.  

The plea had further sought direction to authorities not to delete or exclude names from the ‘final draft’ of NRC published on August 31, 2019; stop further identification of ‘Doubtful’ voters without proper verification; and finalise the draft NRC only after providing opportunity to the person whose names were not there in 2019 list, to prefer appeal against the rejection of their applications. 

It further sought amendment in the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Orders, 1964 by inserting certain safeguards; to review the judgement of the Apex Court, which had declared the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 as ultra vires.

As per the plea, the said order has emboldened the authorities to level reckless allegations, arbitrarily refer cases without fair investigation, and facilitate arbitrary adjudication by the Foreigners Tribunals. 

It said the burden of proof to establish citizenship was shifted to the ‘poor applicants’ in tune with the Foreigners Act, in absence of safety mechanisms laid down in the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983.

The Apex Court further directed the concerned authorities to decide cases relating to citizenship of suspects relating to citizenship of suspected foreigners under the Foreigners Act 1946, observing that external and internal disturbances have been caused in Assam by the unabated influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh. 

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