The final National Register of Citizens (NRC) to be published on August 31, 2019.
Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) clarified that those not included in the final list of the (NRC) in Assam will get 120 days to appeal against their exclusion in the Foreigners’ Tribunal.
- The MHA will bring about an amendment in the NRC rules which stipulate only 60 days for an appeal to be made in the Foreigners’ Tribunal.
- Every individual, whose name does not figure in the final NRC, can represent his/her case in front of the appellate authority i.e. Foreigners Tribunals.
- Under the provisions of Foreigners Act 1946 and Foreigners (Tribunals) Order 1964, only Foreigners Tribunals are empowered to declare a person as a foreigner.
- Thus, non-inclusion of a person’s name in NRC does not by itself amount to him/her being declared as a foreigner.
- However, the final publication of the NRC poses a legal challenge for the Election Commission of India (ECI).
- ECI in 1997, while revising the state’s voter list, introduced a new category of voters for Assam marked as ‘D’ (Doubtful) voters.
- D voters are a category of voters in Assam whose citizenship is doubtful or under dispute.
- While ‘D’ voters continue to remain on Assam’s electoral roll, they cannot vote in an election unless their case is decided by a Foreigners’ Tribunal. However, those excluded from the draft NRC were allowed to vote, creating an anomaly.
So, ECI has to revise the D-voters list in a short span of time.
The Foreigners’ Tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies meant to “furnish opinion on the question as to whether a person is or is not a foreigner within the meaning of Foreigners Act, 1946”.
The MHA constitutes foreigners tribunals whenever required to look into the question of whether a person is or not a foreigner within the meaning of Foreigners Tribunals act, 1946.
In the backdrop of finalization of NRC, this order was amended in 2019, to empower individuals to approach the Tribunals. Earlier, only the State administration could move the Tribunal against a suspect.