India can’t be the world’s refugee capital, Centre tells SC

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India can’t be the world’s refugee capital, Centre tells SC

New Delhi: India cannot be the refugee capital of the world. We need to re-look at the process for sample verification and extend the deadline for finalisation National Register for Citizens in Assam from July 31 to undertake the process for at least 20 per cent re-verification of those included particularly from the bordering districts of Bangladesh, the Union and state governments told the Supreme Court on Friday.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R F Nariman, however, said in the process of verification of claims, the family tree procedure was adopted which required to produce witnesses. So about 80 lakh people stood re-verified, that is more than 40 lakh people excluded from the register.

After hearing the matter at length for some time, the court fixed it for further consideration on Tuesday. It asked NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela to share his reports of July 10 and 18 with Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. The court allowed him to exclude the portions of the reports which may not be related to the issue of sample re-verification.

Mehta, appearing for the Centre and Assam government, contended there was a growing perception that there are many exclusions that was wrong, but many inclusions of illegal immigrants in the NRC which was more wrong.

“The Coordinator has done some excellent works, some mistakes have crept in. The quantum of people is in lakhs. Please consider sample re-verification. The process may be tweaked so that it does not show lack of confidence,” he said.

“The wrongful inclusions are many-fold in districts bordering Bangladesh. This is more prevalent over there though they are illegal immigrants, their names included in the register,” he added.

Arguing on two applications by the Centre and the state government, Mehta contended India cannot be the refugee capital of the world. He said 20 % sample re-verification of those included in the bordering districts and 10% of other districts could be undertaken. He sought a direction to appoint a senior officer for the exercise which should be held in places not near-by to the districts.

NGO, Assam Public Works, which originally filed the PIL in the matter, also made the same request for sample re-verification.

NRC coordinator Hajela submitted that the final list of those included can be published. “But floods have started affecting, we have to shift our bases. Officers were not able to reach the location in the mop-up exercise going on.

He sought a direction to publish the supplementary list and a single consolidated list as on August 31.

The top court had previously declared several times that the process for finalisation of National Register for Citizens in Assam must be completed on or before July 31. At the moment, objections were being considered of those 40 lakh people left out of the NRC.

The draft NRC was published on July 30, last in which names of 2.89 crores of the 3.29 crore people were included. The names of 40,70,707 people, were left out.

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