While the finalization of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is at an advance stage in Assam, the Home Ministry is working on modalities to implement across the country the exercise to identify illegal immigrants for deportation.
An amendment in the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, issued by the central government on May 30 paves the way for expanding the scope of NRC beyond.
The amended order empowers state governments and even district magistrates of all states and Union Territories to set up tribunals to identify a “foreigner” who is living in India illegally.
Until now, only the Centre had the power to constitute such tribunals, which were essentially quasi-judicial bodies unique to Assam.
The NRC exercise in Assam – under the supervision of the Supreme Court – is one of the most keenly watched processes in the country as several lakh people will be rendered stateless once the final list is published.
Pitching for the NRC to be a nationwide exercise and not just restricted to Assam, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday told the Rajya Sabha that the government will ensure that all illegal settlers in India are deported as per international law.
The government would deport illegal immigrants from “every inch of the country’s soil”, Shah said in the House.
The NRC, first published in Assam in 1951, is being updated as per directions of the Supreme Court to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who have illegally entered the state from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
The apex court had asked the Centre and the Assam government to publish the list by July 31 but both the governments have sought more time to do so, citing the need for “sample re-verification” in areas bordering Bangladesh.
Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, while replying to a query on the NRC in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, had also said there would be “some delay in finalising the NRC” as the government does not want genuine citizens to be left out or any illegal immigrant to be included.