All the activists arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case are left-leaning lawyers, academics and organic intellectuals who are extremely popular among the Dalit-Bahujan communities in Maharashtra and also in other states, because of the stellar work they have been doing over the years. The two sets of arrests — on June 6, 2018 and on August 28, 2018 — were based on one FIR filed on January 8, 2018. Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson as well as Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Vara Vara Rao, were arrested, while attempts to arrest Anand Teltumbde didn't succeed, and Gautam Navlakha was granted relief by Delhi High Court. While a 5000-page chargesheet has been filed, the glaring inconsistencies in the document will go down as a huge a blot on Indian democracy.
A two-judge bench comprising the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton F Nariman extended the date of filing claims and objections in response to draft NRC from December 15, 2018 to December 31, 2018. The Assam Government filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking an extension of one month for receiving claims and objections in response to draft NRC.
Excluded names do not belong to a single community or religion, these are a combination of communities — both Muslims and Hindus of Bengali descent, besides Hindi and Nepalese-speaking persons, as well as tribals — with high percentages comprising women, children and daily wage workers having little or no formal education. The glaring lapses in the exercise being undertaken in Assam and the lack of rationality in the exclusion of individuals, stand as a warning bell for any similar process to be implemented in any other part of the country.
The overarching challenge to Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 itself is currently pending adjudication before a five-judge Constitution Bench, raising a total 13 questions and striking at the root of the Assam Accord 1985. The policy prerogative of the Union Government to either grant or withdraw citizenship to any class of persons will inevitably come under the scanner. The stand of the Union must shift from divisive electoral rhetoric and be subjected to the constitutional test.
The Supreme Court has held that the purpose of the exercise of the creation of the NRC in the State of Assam was not the determination of which person is an ‘original inhabitant’, but the sole test for inclusion in the NRC is that of citizenship under the Constitution of India and the Citizenship Act 1955. However, the constitutionality of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act 1955 was challenged in 2012 by way of a writ petition under Article 32 in the Supreme Court. The matter is currently pending before a Constitution Bench of five judges.