Maintain ‘Aadhaar-like’ secrecy for Assam NRC Data: SC to Centre

Supreme Court: The bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and RF Nariman, J has refused to re-open the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam.

The Court elaborately discussed the NRC exercise as below:

  • Section 6A of the Act which was inserted with effect from 7th December, 1985 by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985 (Act No.65 of 1985), carves out a special category of citizens in the State of Assam.
  • In view of the special category of citizens so created a special procedure came to be prescribed by Rule 4A of the 2003 Rules read with the Schedule thereto in the matter of preparation of National Register of Indian Citizens in the State of Assam whereby the claims of all persons (including persons born in India) for inclusion in the NRC were to be related to the entries 19 either in the National Register of Citizens 1951 or any of the electoral rolls prepared upto the midnight of the 24th day of March,1971 or on the basis of any of the additional documents referred to earlier.
  • The above said procedure was necessitated on account of a large number of persons who acquired citizenship by virtue of Section 6A of the Act without being actually born within the territories of India. Yet, as Section 6A of the Act confers citizenship on such person(s), a special procedure, indicated above, has to be devised for inclusion in the NRC in the State of Assam. This is what was agreed upon under the Assam Accord which led to the introduction of Section 6A in the Citizenship Act, 1955 with effect from 7th December, 1985.

Considering the abovementioned procedure, the Court said,

“The entire NRC exercise having been performed on the aforesaid basis, the same cannot be now ordered to be reopened by initiation of a fresh exercise on certain other parameters that have been suggested on behalf of the intervenors/applicants on the strength of the provisions of Section 3(1)(a) of the Act.”

On the issue of the maintenance of security of the NRC data, the bench directed the Central Government to enact an appropriate regime for on lines similar to the security regime provided for AADHAR data. Only thereafter, the list of inclusions and exclusions shall be made available to the State Government, Central Government and Registrar General of India.

The Court further directed,

  • only hard-copies of the supplementary list of inclusions be published at the NRC Seva Centers, Circle Offices and Offices of the District Magistrates of the State.
  • the list of exclusions be published on 31st August, 2019 shall be published only on on-line and shall be family-wise.

[Assam Public Works v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1025, decided on 13.08.2019]

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