Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi has called the National Register of Citizens (NRC) the “base document” for the future in a new book. He held “irresponsible reporting” of some media houses responsible for the deteriorating conditions during the NRC implementation. He said this about the NRC while releasing a book Post Colonial Assam at a function in the capital.
Dealing with the NRC, the CJI said that this was an opportunity to put things in proper perspective, as it would finally emerge that this was not a one-time document. “The NRC is not a document of the moment. Nineteen lakh or 40 lakh is not the point… It is a base document for the future. A document on which we can determine future claims,” the CJI said.
CJI Gogoi said the situation was made worse by the irresponsible reporting of some media institutions. However, to some extent, there was an urgent need to ascertain the number of illegal migrants, which was part of the current effort to implement the NRC. “Nothing more, nothing less,” he exclaimed.
“A meeting place of many races and ethnic groups. Each contributing to the rich tapestry of cultures, languages” is how the CJI described Assam.
The updated final NRC, which validates Indian citizens of Assam with bona fides, was released on 31 August. Over 19 lakh applicants who failed to make it to the list are still staring at an uncertain future.
A total of 3,30,27,661 people had applied to be included in the NRC. Of them, 3,11,21,004 have been included in the document and 19,06,657 excluded, a statement from the NRC State Coordinator’s office said. Those who have been excluded from the National Register of Citizens have 120 days to appeal against it at Foreigners Tribunals.
The Assam government has already ruled out detention of people who do not figure in the list “in any circumstances” till the time Foreigners Tribunals declare them foreigners. The state government has appealed to the people to maintain calm and not panic.
Interestingly, CJI Gogoi headed the bench that ordered the transfer of Assam State National Register of Citizens (NRC) coordinator Prateek Hajela to Madhya Pradesh a month and a few days after the publication of the final citizenship list on 31 August. On his part, Hajela held that his men had done a good job while all stakeholders were left complaining.