NRC makes no one ‘stateless’, says Indian foreign ministry

Dhaka, Sept 1 – Indian Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday said the exclusion from the final list under the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has no implications for the rights of an individual resident in Assam.“It doesn’t make the excluded person “stateless”. It also doesn’t make him or her a “foreigner” within the legal meaning of the term (ie, Foreigners’ Act of 1947),” MEA said in a statement.
They will not be deprived of any rights or entitlements which they enjoyed earlier, it said.
Only a judicial process may declare a person a foreigner within the meaning of the Foreigners’ Act of 1947.
The statement said India is a democracy based upon the rule of law, with an independent judiciary and independent institutions, including for the defence of human rights.
“Any decision that is taken at the end of this process–which will clearly take much more time–will be within the four corners of Indian law, consistent with India’s democratic traditions,” the statement reads.
As of August 31, the State Coordinator, NRC Assam has published a final list under the NRC.
At this stage, this implies that a total of some 33 million cases have been considered, with a total of 1.90 million persons not having been included in the final list.
To ensure the privacy of all 1.9 million persons, who are excluded from the list, the names are not being made available publicly, to protect their privacy.
However, the MEA said, the individuals concerned can see the outcome of their applications online.
Anyone excluded from the list at this stage has a right to file an appeal within 120 days of receiving (individually) a notification of his or her exclusion to the designated tribunal constituted under the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964.
All appeals and excluded cases will be examined by this tribunal, which is a judicial process.
This judicial process will commence only after the appellate period is over (likely after December 31, 2019).
Thereafter, the MEA said, anyone still aggrieved by any decision of being excluded will have the right to approach the High Court of Assam against his or her exclusion from the NRC. “There will still be recourse to the Supreme Court of India after that.”
Any person seeking legal assistance will be given help by the government of Assam.
This is a statutory transparent, legal process mandated and monitored closely by the Supreme Court of India.
It aims to give effect to the Assam Accord signed in 1985 between the Government of India, State government of Assam, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and All Assam Gan Sangram Parishad(AAGSP).
“This is not an executive-driven process. The process is being monitored by the Supreme Court of India directly. It has set the deadlines for all steps that have been taken so far,” said the MEA.
Inclusion in the NRC is unique because it is an application-based process, and not house to house enumeration process, MEA said.
That means that any person in Assam could have sought to be included in the list on the basis of having documentation to prove lineage from an ‘entitled’ person, ie, a person who was a resident of Assam as on March 24, 1971.
The statement mentioned that this is a non-discriminatory process.
“This can be seen from the application form that was used for “Updation of National Register of Citizens, Assam. There was no column in the application asking for religion of the applicant.”
The intent of the Indian government is to make this process as simple and transparent as possible, and to reduce discomfort to the people.
This can be seen from the following facts:
The State Government and the Union Government have repeatedly sought more time from the Supreme Court of India to complete this exercise, purely to eliminate difficulties being faced by people who need to apply for inclusion in the list.
The State of Assam has already publicly announced that it would offer free legal assistance to any person excluded from the list, who is unable to afford such legal assistance. This is to enable people to make the best case for being included in the list.
To expedite the process of receiving applications for inclusion, the State Government is adding a further 200 tribunals to the existing 100 ones; these extra tribunals will come into effect from September 2, 2019.
A further 200 more tribunals will be set up by the State of Assam by December 2019. These tribunals will be set up at Block level for convenience of the appellants, the statement reads. – UNB