Saturday, October 19, 2019

Exclusion from the NRC does not make one ‘stateless’: India

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-09-02 01:08:51 BdST

bdnews24
FILE PHOTO - People wait to check their names on the draft list at the National Register of Citizens (NRC) centre at a village in Nagaon district, Assam state, India, July 30, 2018. REUTERS

India’s external affairs ministry has said exclusion from the final list of Assam’s citizenship exercise known as NRC has not made a person “stateless”.

“Exclusion from the NRC has no implications for the rights of an individual resident in Assam. It does not make the excluded person "stateless". It also does not make him or her a "foreigner" within the legal meaning of the term (ie, Foreigners' Act of 1947),” it said in a statement.

“They will not be deprived of any rights or entitlements which they enjoyed earlier. Only a Judicial process may declare a person a Foreigner within the meaning of the Foreigners' Act of 1947.”

The issue is a cause of concern for Bangladesh as some of the India’s ruling BJP politicians have been saying that those excluded are illegal Bangladeshis.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, however, has said there is nothing to worry as New Delhi has conveyed to him that “it's an internal matter of India and there will be no effects on Bangladesh”.

The external affairs ministry said India is a democracy “based upon the Rule of Law, with an independent judiciary and independent institutions including for the defence of human rights.

“Any decision that is taken at the end of this process--which will clearly take much more time--will be within the four corners of Indian law, consistent with India's democratic traditions.”

The final list published on Aug 31 has not included 1.9 million persons.

Anyone excluded from the list at this stage has a right to file an appeal within 120 days of receiving (individually) a notification of his or her exclusion to the designated Tribunal constituted under the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964.

All appeals and excluded cases will be examined by this Tribunal, which is a judicial process.

“This judicial process will commence only after the appellate period is over likely after December 31,” the external affairs ministry said.

“Thereafter, anyone still aggrieved by any decision of being excluded will have the right to approach the High Court of Assam against his or her exclusion from the NRC.

“There will still be recourse to the Supreme Court of India after that. Any person seeking legal assistance will be given help by the government of Assam.

The ministry continued: “This is a statutory transparent, legal process mandated and monitored closely by the Supreme Court of India.

“It aims to give effect to the Assam Accord signed in 1985 between the government of India, State Government of Assam, the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and All Assam Gan Sangram Parishad (AAGSP).

“This is not an executive-driven process. The process is being monitored by the Supreme Court of India directly. It has set the deadlines for all steps that have been taken so far.

“This is a non-discriminatory process. This can be seen from the application form that was used for "Updation of National Register of Citizens, Assam".

“There was no column in the application asking for religion of the applicant.”