Seeking to assuage mounting anxieties in Assam over exclusion of names in the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) to be published on August 31, the Indian government today said non-inclusion of a person’s name in the document does not by itself amount to him or her being declared as a foreigner.
The Home Ministry of India said in a statement this afternoon that it has been decided at a meeting in New Delhi on Monday that adequate arrangements will be made by the Assam government to provide full opportunity to the persons whose names have been excluded from the final NRC to appeal against their non-inclusion, our New Delhi correspondent reports.
“Every individual, whose name does not figure in the final NRC, can represent his or her case in front of the appellate authority i.e. Foreigner Tribunals (FT),” it said.
According to the statement, “under the provisions of Foreigners Act 1946 and Foreigners (Tribunals) Order 1964, only Foreigners Tribunals are empowered to declare a person as a foreigner. Thus, non-inclusion of a person’s name in NRC does not by itself amount to him or her being declared as a foreigner.”
Assam government has agreed to set up adequate number of Foreigners Tribunals at convenient locations and would also make arrangements to provide legal aid to the needy people among those excluded from the NRC, said the statement.
As it may not be possible for all those excluded from the final NRC to file the appeal within the prescribed time, India’s Home Ministry will amend the rules to extend the present time limit of filing appeals in FTs from 60 days to 120 days regarding exclusion from the final NRC.
The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 are also being amended accordingly, said the statement.
The federal government is providing armed paramilitary forces for deployment as per assessment of the state government to maintain law and order in the run up to and after publication of the final NRC.
In July last year, over 40 lakh people were excluded from the complete draft of the NRC, which contained 2,89,83,677 eligible people out of a total 3,29,91,384 applicants.
Monday’s meeting presided by Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed the issues related to final publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. The review meeting was attended by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Indian Home Secretary, Chief Secretary Assam and senior officers.
Extensive deliberations have been held on the issue between the federal Home Ministry and Assam government in recent weeks.