New Delhi: The process of updating the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam is in jeopardy as the process of appeals is yet to start. This has left people who got excluded from the final list a worried lot. The final NRC was published on 31 August 2019.

Azizur Rahman, advisor of All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU), told The Sunday Guardian: “The NRC final list was published in August 2019. However, till date, we have not seen the government take any initiative to start the appeals process. Thus, those who were left out of the final list are in a panic mode as they are unsure of their future. We submitted a memorandum to the Ministry of Home Affairs to initiate the appeals process.”

As per NRC rules, people excluded from the final list of NRC have the right to file an appeal within 120 days of receiving the notification of exclusion, to the designated Foreigners’ Tribunal. The judicial process will commence only after the appellate period is over. Thereafter, anyone still aggrieved by any decision of being excluded will have the right to approach the High Court of Assam and then the Supreme Court.

In the memorandum, the AAMSU has also asked the Home Ministry to direct the officials concerned to issue national identity cards to people included in the final NRC list as per provisions of Section 14A of Citizenship Act, 1955 and Rule 13 of The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

Rule 13 of The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 reads: “Issue of National Identity Cards—The Registrar General of Citizen Registration, or any officer authorised by him in this behalf, shall issue the National Identity Card to every Citizen whose particulars are entered in the National Register of Indian Citizens under sub-rule (3) of Rule 3.”

“Thus, it is a statutory right of individuals who have been already included in the final list of NRC to get the national identity card,” Rahman added.

The NRC process in Assam has seen a lot of controversy since the publication of the final list. The BJP, which is a vocal supporter of the NRC in the rest of the country, rejected the NRC in Assam. According to BJP sources, many illegal immigrants got enrolled into the NRC through forged documents. The BJP has demanded a review of the final NRC.

The NRC process came to a standstill with the sudden transfer of NRC state coordinator, Prateek Hajela, for inter-cadre deputation to Madhya Pradesh by the Supreme Court in October 2019. Hitesh Dev Sarma, who was appointed on 9 November as the replacement for Prateek Hajela, also courted controversy on social media which raised questions on his views about the NRC process. Following the controversy, he went on a month’s leave which cast a shadow on the whole NRC process.

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