The final list of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC), a document touted to be a proof of Assamese identity, is scheduled to be published on August 31.
Every individual, whose name does not figure in the final NRC, can represent his/her case in front of the appellate authority -- Foreigners Tribunals (FTs), the Ministry of Home Affairs has said.
In a statement issued on August 20, the ministry said “under the provisions of the Foreigners Act 1946 and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, only FTs are empowered to declare a person foreigner.”
Key points about Assam’s NRC
- The Supreme Court-monitored NRC exercise, aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in the state that borders Bangladesh, was carried out only in Assam, which faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century.
- The NRC will include the names of all Indian citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971.
- The application process for the NRC started in May 2015 and a total of 6.5 crore documents were received from 68.27 lakh families across Assam, Registrar General of India Sailesh told PTI.
- The first draft of the NRC was published during the intervening night of December 31, 2018 and January 1, 2019 containing 1.9 crore names.
- On July 30, the second and final draft of NRC was published with 2.9 crore names out of the total 3.29 crore applicants in Assam. The names of 40.07 lakh applicants did not find a place in the historic document. Of this, 37.59 lakh names were rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 were on hold.
- When the NRC was first prepared in Assam in 1951, the state had 80 lakh citizens. According to the 2011 census, state’s total population is over 3.11 crore.
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Role of Foreigners Tribunal
Foreigners' Tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies that will be required after the publication of the final NRC on August 31. Those who are not named in the list can challenge their exclusion in these tribunals.
The body has been defined under The Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, which was issued by the Central Government under Section 3 of The Foreigners Act, 1946. In May, 2019, the Home Ministry laid down the modalities for the tribunals in Assam to decide on appeals made by people not satisfied with the outcome of claims and objections filed against the NRC.
The Ministry has cleared that only FTs are empowered to declare a person foreigner. “Thus, non-inclusion of a person's name in NRC does not by itself amount to him/her being declared as a foreigner,” it said in its August 20 statement.
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The Ministry has also extended the time limit from 60 days to 120 days for excluded persons to file their appeals. "It has been decided that state government would also make arrangements to provide legal aid to the needy people amongst those excluded from NRC. As it may not be possible for all those excluded from final NRC to file the appeal within the prescribed time, the MHA will amend the rules to increase the present time limit of filing of appeals in FTs from 60 days to 120 days regarding exclusion from final NRC," the statement added.(With inputs from PTI)