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Authorities in a fix over Supreme Court’s order on data sharing of NRC


GUWAHATI: With Supreme Court order disallowing sharing of National Register of Citizens (NRC) data unless Aadhaar like regime is set up, options are explored for how the records will be available to foreigners’ tribunal for those whose name was not included can move tribunal for further claims and objections.

Creation of Aadhaar security regime for the final NRC published in 2019 will require another eight to nine months’ time and NRC authorities have sought requisite funds from the Registrar General of India (RGI).

On 13 August 2019 the Supreme Court has stated, “in so far as the prayer of the learned state co-ordinator with regard to maintenance of security of NRC data is concerned, we direct that an appropriate regime be enacted on lines similar to the security regime provided for Aadhaar data.”

The Apex court further said, “Only thereafter, the list of inclusions and exclusions shall be made available to the state government, Central government and Registrar general of India. We further direct that only hard copies of supplementary list of inclusions to be published at the NRC Seva Centre, Circle offices and offices of the district Magistrates of the state.”

The final NRC list, published on August 31 in 2019, had found more than 31.1 million people eligible to be included in the registry while leaving out over 1.9 million people.

A senior official in NRC who did not wish to be identified, told ET, “Once these people move to foreigners’ tribunal for further claims and objections, records will be called from the NRC as to on what ground these people were rejected. However, as per the Court’s verdict we cannot share data to any agency before the security regime is created. Creation of the security regime will take at least eight to nine months and we have sought requisite funds from RGI.”

NRC is caught in logjam as issuance of rejection slips to those left out of the final register may not start shortly, as the NRC authorities have asked officers in the different districts to verify the speaking orders for in several cases the authorities have found anomalies.

Those who get the rejection slip can move the foreigners’ tribunal within 120 days for further claims.

The official added, “The ministry of Home Affairs in its affidavit filed on January 29, 2020 before the Supreme Court on behalf of Union of India in WPC (c) 274/2009 in the matter of Assam Public Works Vs Union of India & ors has submitted that the person not satisfied with outcome of decision of the claims and objects may file an appeal before the Foreigners Tribunal without waiting for publication of final NRC by Registrar General of Citizens Registration.”

The official said, “This means an aggrieved person can move without waiting for rejection slip however the problem now is how to make available records to the tribunals. We are deliberating on it and trying to find ways. Correspondences are done to find ways.”

To deal with the number of increased cases Assam set up 200 new foreigners’ tribunals, in addition to the 100 tribunals that were already functioning. There is a plan to add another 200 tribunals and scale up the number gradually to 1,000.

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