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Arguing that lakhs of people may have been included in National Register of Citizens (NRC) list, the Centre and the Assam government today (Friday, July 19) urged the Supreme Court to extend the deadline for publishing the final consolidated NRC by a month.

“The Centre is committed to deal strictly with illegal immigrants. India cannot be a refugee capital of the world,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, adding that the process needs to be tweaked to deal with wrongful exclusions and inclusions.

The Centre and Assam government sought a 20 per cent sample re-verification in districts of the state that border Bangladesh as lakhs of people could have wrongly been included.

Assam NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela said a supplementary list of additional inclusions and final exclusions will be published on July 31 but one more month was needed to publish the final consolidated NRC.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, however, said that as per the report submitted by Assam NRC coordinator, about 80 lakh people have already been re-verified in the process of disposal of claims and objections.

“Mr. Hajela’s report says while disposing of claims, 80 lakh names have been reverified. That means at least 27% of names have been reverified, and you are asking for 20%… So, is there need for a sample reverification? If we are satisfied that verification has been done properly, then there is no need for a sample reverification, isn’t it?” Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who is accompanied by Justice Rohinton Nariman on the Special Bench, asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for both Assam and the Centre.

Mehta said the findings in Hajela’s reports may not truly reflect the reality on the ground. “There is a growing perception. They must have done excellent work, but mistakes have crept in. The quantum of people included in certain areas is more… Wrongful inclusions are manifold in the bordering districts, lakhs of illegal immigrants have been included in the draft NRC list. The problem is the border districts are more prevalent,” he submitted.

He said the wrongful inclusions may be because local officers were used in the NRC process and they may have come under local influences.

“There should be proper reverification… There should be no room for a lack of confidence in an NRC exercise that takes away the rights of the people and will uproot them. Though, of course, illegals should be uprooted as India cannot be the refugee capital of the world,” Mehta urged the court.

The Bench asked Mehta to go through what Hajela had to say on the issue of reverification in his reports to the Supreme Court on July 10 and 18.

“Mr. Mehta, you are not the only fountain or source of information [about what is happening]. We have our own sources of information and Mr. Hajela has his own,” Chief Justice Gogoi addressed the Solicitor General.

The court asked Hajela to redact paragraphs in his reports that do not strictly deal with reverification before handing them over to Mehta.

The top court will hear the matter again on July 23.

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