NRC Assam Current Affairs - 2019

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SC Verdict: Foreigners Tribunal decision will prevail over NRC

The Supreme Court of India has held that a Foreigner Tribunal’s order declaring a person as an illegal foreigner will be binding and will prevail over government decision to include or exclude name from National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

Key Highlights

  • Argument: The SC bench constituted of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and SC Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna unanimously distinguished between decisions of NRC) and of foreigners tribunals and upheld that the tribunal’s order being the quasi-judicial one will prevail.
  • Verdict: As per SC the persons whose names are not included in NRC in Assam can produce documents including ones related to their family tree and thus seek review of tribunal’s decision. As per SC it cannot create an appellate forum for those, declared as illegal foreigners by the foreigners tribunal, by using its power under Article 142 of Indian Constitution.
  • Outcome: If the name of a person, included in NRC in Assam is deleted on ground that he was a foreigner, then principle of ‘res-judicata’ (a judicially decided issue cannot be re-agitated) would apply on decision taken by foreigners tribunal. Thus a person who has been declared an illegal immigrant cannot seek re-decision (right of appeal) against exclusion or dropping of his name in normal circumstances.

About Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 1964

  • The order was passed by Government of India (GoI) under section 3 of foreigners Act, 1946.
  • The GoI can constitute foreigners tribunals whenever required to look into question of whether a person is or not a foreigner within the meaning of Foreigners Tribunals act, 1946.
  • The Foreigners tribunal shall consist of persons having judicial experience as government may think fit to appoint.
  • It has powers of a civil court while trying a suit under code of civil procedure, 1908. It includes summoning any person, requiring any document and issuing commissions for examination of any witness.

Proposal to revive National Register of Indian Citizens Project

The Central Government is actively considering the proposal to revive the National Register of Indian Citizens project as part of its efforts to identify and deport the illegal immigrants from the Country.

National Register of Indian Citizens

The Department of the National Population Register (NPR) under the Registrar General of India would be tasked with the responsibility to prepare the National Register of Indian Citizens. The department would prepare two databases, one National Register of Indian Citizens and the rest would become National Register of Residents.

The idea of creating National Register of Indian Citizens was first floated during the regime of NDA 1 with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as PM to contain the influx of illegal immigrants.

The Group of Ministers’ (GoM) report after the Kargil war had recommended the government to identify citizens and non-citizens, and providing both different identity cards. The committee had recommended to implement it in border districts, or maybe in a 20-kilometre border belt in first phase and then to expand it gradually all over the country.

Even a pilot project Multi-Purpose National Identity Cards (MPNIC) to citizens was also undertaken during NDA 1. But the proposal got abandoned with the change of government in 2004.

The National Register of Indian Citizens project has now got a push after the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam is heading towards conclusion.