The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register maintained by the Government of India containing names and certain relevant information for identification of Indian citizens in the state of Assam.
The register was first prepared after the 1951 census of India, and since then it has not been updated till NRC came into the picture. Assam has become the first Indian state where the updating of the NRC is being taken up to include the names of those individuals whose names appeared in the NRC of 1951 and are still alive; and/or of their currently living descendants who have a permanent residence within the state.
The process of NRC in the state of Assam started in the year 2013 when the Supreme Court of India passed an order in favour of NRC. Since then, the Supreme Court of India (bench of chief justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton Fali Nariman) has been monitoring it continuously.
NRC v/s CAA
In Assam, one had to apply for the inclusion in the register of citizenship; however, for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), there is no clear set of terms and conditions. Moreover, guidelines on how people will proceed with CAA, and how the Act will be executed is still vague.
Process of NRC In Assam
The entire process is conducted by Mr Prateek Hajela, an officer from the Indian Administrative Service Cadre. He has been designated as the State Coordinator of National Registration, Assam along with 52,000 government officials. The process is being carried out under the monitoring of the Supreme Court of India, which has been holding a periodical hearing on representations made to it, by various interested parties or stakeholders in Assam. Hundreds of NRC Sewa Kendra’s were also set up to carry out the process of NRC. The processed documents and conditions are divided into two lists namely List A, and List B. The documents that come under List A are as follows:
- 1951 NRC
- Electoral roll(s) up to 24 March (midnight), 1971
- Land and tenancy documents
- Citizenship certificate
- Permanent residential certificate
- Refugee registration certificate
- Any government-issued license/certificate
- Government service/employment certificate
- Bank or post office accounts
- Birth certificate
- State educational board or university educational certificate
- Court records/processes
- Any LIC policy
While the List B contains:
- Birth certificate
- Land document
- Board/University certificate
- Bank/LIC/post office records
- Circle officer/Gaon Panchayat secretary certificate in case of married women
- Electoral roll
- Ration card
- Any other legally acceptable document
For women who were married to other regions or states and with no documents to choose from list B to establish a family link, the state has allowed
- Circle officer or Gaon Panchayat secretary certificate that need not be on or before the 1971 date
- A ration card issued on or before 1971.
What about those whose names were missing from the list?
Various help centres along the process were there to help people whose name were missing from the list. The steps were as follows:
If one’s name was not in the final list, that individual had to approach the Foreigners Tribunals for which around 200 new Foreigners Tribunals were set up in the state of Assam.
Additionally, to support these people, six detention centres were opened in the state of Assam in Goalpara, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Silchar, Kokrajhar and Tezpur. Moreover, if an individual was not satisfied with FTs services, he/she can file a complaint against FTs.
What would a pan-India NRC mean?
Who all are Indian citizens under CAA?
The Citizenship Act, 1955 states that anyone born in India on or after January 26, 1950, up till July 1, 1987, is an Indian citizen by birth.
Anyone born on or after July 1, 1987, but before the initiation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003 and either of whose parents is an Indian citizen at the time of his/her birth is an Indian citizen.
Plus anyone born after the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003 and both of whose parents are Indian citizens at the time of his/her birth is an Indian citizen.
The only exemption to this was Assam, wherein as per the 1985 Assam Accord foreigners who arrived in the state up to March 24, 1971, were to be regularised as Indian citizens. In this context, only Assam was permitted to take in foreigners up to March 24, 1971. For the rest of the country, those born outside the nation after January 26, 1950, and residing in India without proper documents is a foreigner, illegal immigrant. Such individual is subject to laws like the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920; tribunals are already empowered to identify, detain and deport them.
Let’s assume that NRC becomes a success in Assam, but the question is how far and how long this process of proving citizenship will take? Around 19 lakh people were found illegal immigrants as per the current list of NRC in Assam, what will happen to these people? Will they be deported? If yes, will Bangladesh Government take them back?