Appropriate Regime Similar To Aadhaar Be Enacted To Secure Assam NRC Data: Supreme Court
People undergo a verification process to link their Aadhar card with National Register of Citizens (NRC) at a Seva Kendra in Barpeta, Assam. (Source: PTI)

Appropriate Regime Similar To Aadhaar Be Enacted To Secure Assam NRC Data: Supreme Court


The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that an "appropriate regime", similar to Aadhaar, be enacted for security of data of Assam National Register of Citizens, which is scheduled to be published by Aug. 31.

The top court said the list of inclusions and exclusions in the Assam NRC would be made available to the Centre, state government and the Registrar General of India only after the appropriate regime is enacted for securing the data.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice RF Nariman, directed that only hard copies of supplementary list of inclusions would be published at the NRC seva centers, circle offices and offices of the district magistrates of the state.

"We also direct that the list of exclusions to be published on Aug. 31, 2019 shall be published only on on-line and shall be family-wise," the bench said in its 21-page order.

"Insofar as the prayer of the state coordinator with regard to maintenance of security of the NRC data is concerned, we direct that an appropriate regime be enacted on lines similar to the security regime provided for Aadhaar data," the top court said.

"Only thereafter, the list of inclusions and exclusions shall be made available to the state government, central government and registrar general of India," it said.

A five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court had on Sept. 26 last year declared the Centre's Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid but had struck down some of its provisions including its linking with bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions.

It had asked the Centre to bring in a robust data protection regime and said that retaining authentication data of citizens who have enrolled for Aadhaar beyond six months was "impermissible".

In its order passed on Tuesday, the apex court said the entire NRC exercise cannot be ordered to be re-opened on the basis of certain other parameters, which were suggested to the court by some intervenors who had filed applications raising the issue of some provision of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The bench, while referring to its July 23 order, said it had noted two paragraphs of the report filed by NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela and had directed Hajela to issue a public notice to enable all the stake-holders to appear before the court to contest the prayers made by the coordinator.

One of the paragraphs of Hajela's report had said that for any NRC claimants, if parent or legacy person through whom eligibility is sought to be established, is a declared foreigner then such persons will not be included in NRC irrespective of the status of the other parent.

The report had also said that for those persons born before Dec. 3, 2004, if the parent through whom legacy is drawn, is not a declared foreigner and is found eligible for inclusion in NRC, but the other parent from whom legacy is not drawn is a declared foreigner then such descendants may be included in NRC.

The intervenors had raised objection on the report contending that the action runs contrary to the provisions of Section 3 (1)(a) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 which deals with acquisition of citizenship by birth in case of every person born in India on or after Jan. 26, 1950 but before July 1, 1987.

The bench noted in its order that the purport and effect of the provisions of Section 3 (1)(a) and (b) of the Act is presently pending consideration before a constitution bench of the apex court.

"The entire NRC exercise having been performed on the aforesaid basis, the same cannot be now ordered to be reopened by initiation of a fresh exercise on certain other parameters that have been suggested on behalf of the intervenors/ applicants on the strength of the provisions of Section 3(1)(a) of the Act," the bench said.

It said the NRC would be updated subject to the order, which may be passed by the Constitution bench.

The apex court had earlier said that the final Assam NRC would be published on or by Aug. 31.

It had also brushed aside criticism and statements made in the Assam Assembly and outside relating to the exercise carried out for NRC and had asked the Centre to adhere to the deadline of Aug. 31.

On July 23, the top court had extended the deadline for publication of the final NRC in Assam by a month to Aug. 31 while rejecting the pleas seeking permission for 20 percent sample re-verification.

The Centre and the Assam government had sought permission for sample re-verification to find out wrongful inclusions, especially in districts bordering Bangladesh, and exclusions of persons in the NRC which was to be published by July 31.

The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published on the intervening night of Dec. 31, 2017 and Jan. 1, 2018 in accordance with the top court's direction. Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated then.

Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.

Also read: Chief Minister Sonowal Apprises Amit Shah On NRC; Seeks Additional Forces For Assam

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