Day 9 ArgumentsAssam’s National Register of Citizens
May 30th 2019
The Supreme Court is monitoring the implementation of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC), the final draft of which is due on July 31st 2019. Today, the Vacation Bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Aniruddha Bose J urgently heard the matter. Two issues came before the Court:
- Ensuring the fair and just processing of claims and objections
- Establishing additional Foreigners Tribunals
Regarding the first, CJI Gogoi emphasised that while the Office of the State Coordinator should ensure that it meets the July deadline, no individual should be denied justice. The Court appeared to be responding to the reports that a Foreigners Tribunal had declared a Kargil war veteran a foreigner.
On the second issue, the Court directed the Gauhati High Court and other relevant authorities to ensure that 200 additional Foreigners Tribunals are ‘functional‘ by September 1st 2019. Further, the Court reviewed the qualifications for new members of Foreigners Tribunals. The Secretary to the Home and Political Department of the Government of Assam issued the following qualifications:
- Advocates with a minimum of 7 years of practice, above the age of 35 years.
- Retired Judicial Officers from the Assam Judicial Service.
- Retired IAS of ACS Officers (not below the rank of Secretary/Addl. Secretary) having experience in quasi-judicial works.
- Must be below the age of 67 years.
The Court agreed with the qualifications, except it amended clause 3 to read: ‘Retired civil servants (not below the rank of Secretary and Additional Secretary) having judicial experience.’
The Court did not list a next date of hearing. However, it granted State Co-Ordinator Prateek Hajela the permission to mention the matter before the Court during the summer vacation, if necessary to meet the July 31st deadline.