[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Assam Government and the Central Government have sought a 10% sample re-verification of the names included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) being updated for Assam. An application for the re-verification was heard yesterday by a special bench of the Supreme Court comprising the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, which has been monitoring the progress of the updating of NRC for Assam
While Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta contended that in the districts bordering Bangladesh the re-verification should cover 20% of the names, the State Coordinator, who had since the last date of hearing already filed two progress reports in sealed cover before the Court, submitted that during the process of hearing of claims and objections, about 27% of the names included in the NRC had already been thoroughly verified by officials.
The re-verification had been done of not just those persons who had filed claims or against whose inclusion objections had been filed but also of relatives or family members of such persons who had come to give evidence during the hearings.
Though the court did not record any submissions made by the Solicitor General or the State Coordinator in its order passed yesterday, it has directed the SG representing the State of Assam and Union of India to go through the report filed by the State Coordinator with regard to the issue of re-verification The matter has now been posted for July 23, 2019.
The question of re-verification can be traced back to the hearing before the special bench on August 28, 2018 following the publication of the complete draft NRC on June 30th 2018, when the court while finalizing the standard operating procedure for disposal of claims and objections, recorded that it was of the view that a re-verification of at least 10% of the names included in the final NRC may be conducted by a team of Nagrik Seva Kendras (NSK) personnel from a neighbouring district, if considered necessary. The NSKs are centres where NRC work is conducted.
The court suggestion regarding the re-verification was made on the basis of the progress report filed by the State Coordinator for NRC indicating district-wise data of the percentage of the population which had been excluded from the final draft NRC.
It remains to be seen whether the current demand for a sample re-verification, which will only lead to a delay in the finalization of NRC, will be accepted by the special bench or not. Also of import is the apprehension expressed by the Solicitor General that wrong inclusions had been made in the NRC and that India should not become the refugee capital for the world. These statements have been made even as the State Coordinator, who is in charge of the updating of NRC in Assam is completely satisfied with the re-verification that has been conducted so far.