The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Assam government for making a “sweeping statement” that 15% of the State population were tribals who have not participated in modernisation and were away from the mainstream.
The top court said it was a “dangerous statement” on the State’s behalf and was neither good for the health of the people, nor the government as 15% population was a huge chunk. “You are making a sweeping statement. You are the state. How can you say so?” a Bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R.F. Nariman said.
The court’s observation came after Assam’s counsel referred to this issue and said the government was trying to make them come forward in the ongoing process of updation and publication of draft National Register of Citizens in the State.
The NRC of 1951 is being updated for Assam in accordance with the tripartite agreement between the State and Central governments and the All Assam Students’ Union, which was arrived at in 2005 to implement the 1985 Assam Accord.
The apex court was earlier told that as of November 22, a total of 3.29 crore claims have been made for inclusion in the NRC, which is being prepared to identify illegal migrants.
Meanwhile, the apex court reserved its order on pleas relating to the NRC, including those which have sought some clarifications on the issue of who the original inhabitants of the State were.
According to the provisions of a clause of Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, “the names of persons who are originally inhabitants of the state of Assam and their children and descendants, who are citizens of India, shall be included in the consolidated list if the citizenship of such persons is ascertained beyond reasonable doubt and to the satisfaction of the registering authority”.
During the day’s hearing, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, representing the Centre, said the entire exercise of updation and publication of draft NRC in Assam was being carried out to identify the illegal migrants. He said the tribals were not a “highly educated class” but were entitled to be registered in the Assam NRC.