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Is Assam’s final NRC really final?

Is Assam’s final NRC really final?

Assam’s “final” National Register of Citizens was published with much fanfare in August 2019. Meant to be a list of legal Indian citizens living in the state, it was compiled after two draft versions and excluded 19 lakh applicants. But a set of developments has raised the vexed question: is Assam’s final NRC really final?

In April, state NRC coordinator HD Sharma wrote to Assam’s foreigners’ tribunals – quasi-judicial bodies that decide on matters of nationality – asking them not to rely on the August 2019 document. Sharma’s rationale: the August 2019 NRC was not the final NRC at all and its “results” were likely to change. Thus, Sharma insisted, it “cannot be treated as evidence for disposal of cases under judicial or quasi-judicial process”.

Sharma said he was forced to write the memo because the tribunals constantly asked for NRC-related documents from state and district offices as they adjudicated cases before them.

Essentially, Sharma was suggesting to the tribunals that a person’s inclusion or exclusion in the NRC should not colour their view of whether an individual was a foreigner or an Indian citizen.

On May 10, a tribunal member, as adjudicators in these quasi courts are called, dashed off a letter to Sharma...

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