A Foreigners'' Tribunal (FT) in Assam has ruled that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on August 31, 2019, is the "Final NRC", even as the Registrar General of India is yet to notify it. Declaring a man an Indian citizen, the tribunal noted that though national identity cards are yet to be issued, "but there is no doubt that this NRC Assam published in 2019 is nothing but Final NRC".
The ruling was given by Sishir Dey, member (attached), FT-II, Karimganj in a ''D voter'' (doubtful voter) case against one Bikram Singha of Jamirala village in Patherkandi police station area of the district. In May 2008, the Assam police's Border wing had filed a case against Singha. Marked a D or 'doubtful voter', Singha remained untraced until June 28 and appeared before the Foreigners' Tribunal-II (FT-II) in Karimganj town two months later, seeking time to return from Bengaluru where he was working. Singha furnished before the FT-II several documents to prove his Indian citizenship.
Documents Furnished By Dey
Among others, he furnished a 1968 land deed in the name of his grandfather Madan Kumar Singha and proof of his father Bharat Chandra Singha having been an Indian Air Force employee for 29 years since 1972.
Dey heard his case on September 1. The prosecution lawyer argued that Singha had no document establishing that his family was living in India before 1966. She referred to the 'White Paper on Foreigners' Issue' published by the state's Home and Political Department on October 20, 2012, which says that anyone born between January 26, 1950, and July 1, 1987, can be considered an Indian citizen by birth irrespective of the nationality of his or her parents. However, Dey observed that Singha's documents pointed to his father and grandfather having been residents of Jamirala village before 1968.
Although there were no documents to show they were residents in Assam prior to 1966 (year of first amendment to Citizenship Act). Dey also observed that Singha's name figured in the NRC that was supervised by the Supreme Court on the basis of the Citizenship Act of 1955 and The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
Directions By Court
"The names of other persons of his family in Final NRC may be conclusive proof of their Indian citizenship," the tribunal said, ruling in his favour. Addressing the issue of whether the NRC has "attained finality or not" as raised by the government advocate, the tribunal said the NRC was prepared as per provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955, and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, and on the directions of the Supreme Court.
The process of updating the NRC had begun in 2015 and the final list was published on August 31, 2019, with the names of 3.11 crore people. Over 19 lakh applicants were left out of it. The Registrar General of India is yet to notify it.
Earlier, Assam's Political (B) department asked members of all Foreigners' Tribunals not to pass "consequential orders/directions" and stick to giving an "opinion" as mandated by the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964. Previously, the Assam government asked FT members to adhere to the views of the Judicial Department while passing opinions on the citizenship status of suspected foreigners.