Exclusion from NRC draft will not affect voting rights: ECI to SC

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Exclusion from NRC draft
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Apex Court asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) to clarify what action it would take if a person whose name was not included in the final draft of National Register of Citizen (NRC) for Assam, but was in the electoral rolls.

The final draft of NRC is scheduled to be published on July 31, 2019, as per the deadline set by the Supreme Court by an order dated January 24, 2019. Elections in the state are scheduled to be held in three phases between April 11 and 23, 2019.

Court asked to furnish data

A three-judge bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, on March 12, 2019, sought an affidavit from the ECI furnishing data on the addition and deletion of voters from the electoral rolls in Assam, as revised in January 2017, 2018 and 2019 by the next date of the hearing on March 29, 2019.

The Supreme Court has sought an affidavit from the ECI furnishing data on the addition and deletion of voters from the electoral rolls in Assam by the next date of the hearing on March 29, 2019.

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“The Election Commission of India to inform the Court the details with regard to the revision of electoral rolls under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 in the State of Assam with reference to 1.1.2017, 1.1.2018 and 1.1.2019 indicating the precise number of names included and deleted from the electoral roll in the aforesaid exercises of revision of electoral rolls”, the court order said.

Persons in Assam have been deprived of voting rights?

In the plea before the Supreme Court, the petitioners alleged that several categories of persons in the northeastern State had been deprived of their voting rights ahead of the Lok Sabha election. Persons whose names have not been included in the voters’ list were going to be deprived from their constitutional as well as statutory rights to vote in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election, the petition asserted.

The petitioners alleged that several categories of persons in the northeastern State had been deprived of their voting rights ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

According to the petition, there are five categories of persons whose names have been removed from the voters’ list. They are:

Persons whose names were deleted from the voters’ list were some whose names appeared in the draft NRC published on July 30, 2018.

Persons whose names were not included in the complete draft NRC but subsequently filed claims for inclusion of their names in it. They had voted in the earlier Lok Sabha elections and were waiting for the inclusion of their names.

Persons who had been declared as foreigners by the foreigners’ tribunal as well as by the Guwahati High Court, but the order had been stayed by the Supreme Court.

Persons who had already been declared foreigners by the foreigners’ tribunal and such declarations had been set aside by the Supreme Court.

Persons whose names have not been included in the draft NRC, but other members of their families, including parents were included in the NRC. They have filed their claim for their inclusion.

Voting rights not to be affected

In pursuance to the order of the Court dated March 8, 2019, the Secretary of the Election Commission, Mallay Mallick appeared before the Court in person and said that while updating of the electoral rolls was a continuous process, the allegation of deletion of the names of the petitioners from the voters’ list on the basis of their names not appearing in the draft NRC was factually incorrect.

The Election Commission, Mallay Mallick has said the allegation of deletion of the names of the petitioners from the voters’ list on the basis of their names not appearing in the draft NRC is factually incorrect.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, who represented the ECI rejected the claims of deletion. “At no point of time, have the names of the petitioners been deleted from the electoral roll,” he said.

What is NRC?

The NRC is a register of Indian citizens in Assam that is being updated to remove “illegal immigrant” under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and according to rules framed under the Assam Accord.

In the updating process of the NRC, that started in May 2015 and ended on August 31, 2015, a total of 3.29 crore people applied through 68.31 lakh applications. Of those, about 40.07 lakh applicants have been left out of the draft of NRC which was released on July 30, 2018.

The state government machinery under the Registrar-General of India is updating the NRC list. With citizenship being a subject on the Union List, the Central Government is responsible for policy decisions, guidelines and funds for the NRC update.

The Election Commission of India, ECI, Tuesday told the Supreme Court that exclusion of names of persons from draft NRC in Assam will not affect their voting rights in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls provided their names feature in the electoral rolls.

This was stated by the ECI secretary, who had been summoned by the apex court last week in connection with a PIL.

The plea alleged that several categories of persons in Assam have been deprived of voting rights ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The petitioner said, a category of persons whose names were d from the voter list included some whose names appeared in the draft NRC published on July 30, 2018.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asked the poll panel to clarify what action it will take if a person’s name is not included in the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam to be published on 31st of July, but it features in the electoral rolls.

The court asked the ECI to provide it by 28th of this month, which is the next date of hearing, the data about the addition and deletion of names from voters’ list as revised in January for 2017, 2018 and 2019.