The Gauhati High Court has stayed the termination of 252 Junior Assistants engaged on contract basis to update Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC), as monitored by the Supreme Court.

The JAs were served a termination notice on March 26, three days after the Registrar General of India ordered the closure of the NRC office in Assam and refused to sanction funds after March 31.

The JAs were engaged in February 2015 at the district, sub-division and circle levels with fixed monthly remuneration for NRC-related works.

A High Court official on Friday said that hearing the petition filed by Biplab Kumar Medhi and 251 others JAs, Justice Prasanta Kumar Deka ordered the continuation of their service.

“Status quo as on date shall be maintained in respect of the service of the present petitioners,” the judge said in his 47-page judgement.

Justice Deka has ordered to serve notice, returnable in two weeks, to the Centre, the RGI, Assam’s Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and State NRC Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma.

“Prima facie I am satisfied that though admittedly the petitioners were engaged on the basis of specific terms of contract, however, keeping in view that the service of the petitioners are governed under Service Regulations, 2014, there is a case to be heard as to whether the issuance of the impugned notice of March 26, 2021 is proper in terms of the Service Regulations, 2014 and various terms and expression under the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003,” the judge said.

The draft of the NRC was published in August 2019, excluding 19.06 lakh people out of 3.3 crore applicants. Each of the 19.06 lakh people was to have been issued rejection slips, citing the reasons for their exclusion soon after the publication of the draft. However, the rejection slips are yet to be issued for the excluded people to approach a Foreigners’ Tribunal within 120 days of receiving them. Around a 100 tribunals are tasked to scrutinise the documents of the excluded people and to decide if they would remain debarred or make it to the NRC.

The tribunals can declare a man foreigner, based on the Assam Accord of 1985, according to which immigrants, who entered the state after March 24, 1971, are to be detected and deported. The National Register of Citizens in Assam is being updated, based on this cut-off date.

–IANS

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