New Delhi, July 13 (July) The Supreme Court on Thursday took exception to Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal’s interference with the preparation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft in the state.
Sonowal had said the NRC draft would be prepared by December 31, 2017, as against the March 31, 2018 deadline set by the apex court, which is monitoring the process.
A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said the apex court did not appreciate any other authority intervening in the national register preparation process when the court was monitoring it.
“We have a statement of Assam Chief Minister that he has revised the date (for the preparation of draft NRC in Assam) to December 31. When the Supreme Court is monitoring, how can another agency intervene,” Justice Gogoi said.
“We have spent time, money and energy for over two years. It is not fair to this court,” Justice Gogoi said pointing out that last time the court was told the draft NCR would be ready by March 31, 2018, and now the CM was revising it to December 31, 2017.
“Last time you told us that you will do it by March 31. (Now) We have a statement of Assam Chief Minister that he has revised the date to December 31, 2017,” Justice Gogoi said wondering that how can another authority interfere when the apex court is monitoring.
Justice Gogoi asked that when the court had given time till Match 31, 2018, who was the Chief Minister to revise the date.
Having expressed its displeasure, the court. in its order. said: “We don’t appreciate any other authority intervening in the preparation of NCR. Be that as it may be, we now understand that draft NRC would be ready by December 31, 2017. Accordingly all budgetary allocations are approved…”
The court said that in the event of any difficulty, State Coordinator for National Registration Prateek Hajela would apprise the court of the same.
The exercise for the upgradation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam is underway and it also involves verification of the people who claim to be resident of Assam but were living in different parts of the country prior to 1971 — the cut-off date for the identification of illegal migrants from Bangladesh.