SC reprimands Assam NRC coordinator and RGI, restrains them from talking to media

NEW DELHI, Aug 7: The Supreme Court today severely reprimanded Assam’s NRC coordinator and the Registrar General of India for discussing the modalities to be adopted in finalizing the NRC with the media, saying it could have sent them to jail for contempt, and restrained them from speaking to journalists without its approval.
A bench comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman termed as “most unfortunate” the statements made by Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) coordinator Prateek Hajela and RGI Sailesh to media on the issue of dealing with claims and objections of those who have been left out in the draft NRC.
“Are you in any manner concerned with the claims and objections to be made? What have you said in the newspapers and tell us, how are you concerned with that?” a visibly angry Justice Nariman told the officials.
The court took cognizance of the statements of the officials on its own and said, it was “disturbed by certain statements made by Hajela, state coordinator for NRC as well as Sailesh, registrar general and census commissioner of India, which appeared in a section of the press.”
The judges had brought the newspapers with them and at the outset asked Hajela and the RGI to read them and explain as to under what authority they discussed with the media the modalities to be adopted to deal with complaints and objections in finalizing the NRC.
“The statements, without dilating, in the considered view of the court, are highly improper and touch upon matters which should have formed the subject matter. Court’s orders to be passed after submission of the standard operating procedure by the Union of India, as recorded in our previous order dated 31 July, 2018,” the bench noted in its order.
Hajela said he had consulted RGI Shailesh and talked to the media to dispel apprehensions regarding dealing of objections and complaints on the draft NRC.
Both the officials immediately tendered unconditional apology to the bench.
The NRC report said that out of 3.29 crore people, names of 2.89 crore have been included in the draft NRC. It further said that names of 40,70,707 people do not figure in the list. Of the these, 37,59,630 names have been rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 are on hold.
Hajela had informed the court that the claims and objections regarding inclusion and exclusion in the NRC could be filed from 30 August to 28 September.
He said till 7 August, the draft NRC will be displayed or made available to them through seva kendras.
The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published on 31 December according to the top court’s direction. Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated.
Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC, which was first prepared in 1951. (PTI)