In an apparent move to douse the uproar following the publication of the final NRC draft, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said the draft cannot be the basis for any coercive action by any authority.
“What has been published is a complete draft NRC. It can’t be the basis for any action by any authority,” said a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman as Attorney General K.K. Venugopal pointed to the serious human problem.
Referring to the statement by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the fears of influx to adjoining States, the Attorney General said claims and objection by all those left out in the draft NRC have to be considered and would involve a proper hearing with the local registrar issuing notice and calling for documents as provided under the statute.
Saying that the claims and objections will have to be considered carefully, the Attorney General told the court that “full opportunity must be given to all”.
As Venugopal said there may be a need for biometric proof, the court refused to get into it.
“Mr. AG, at the moment we don’t express any opinion. Our silence should not be construed as agreement or consent,” Justice Gogoi said.
The court was also informed by the Attorney General that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) giving the modalities for dealing with the claims and procedures will be prepared by the concerned ministry by August 15.
Fixing August 16 as next date of hearing, the bench observed that the SOP must be fair.
At the outset of the hearing, the State Co-ordinator of the NRC, Prateek Hajela, informed the court about the compliance of the court’s order with the publication of draft NRC on July 30.
On a question by Justice Gogoi about how much time it will take to publish the final NRC, saying “we have read somewhere that it will be published by December 31”, Hajela said: “We have not fixed any date.”
The draft NRC would be open for inspection till August 7, he said. Thereafter, from August 8, training of officials to deal with the claims and objection would commence.
The filing of the claims and the objections would commence from August 30 and will last till September 28.