05, Mar 2021
Citizens for Justice & Peace survey reveals a worrying situation.
There is no legal system available in the state to provide legal aid to the 19 million people excluded from the NRC. Citizens for Justice & Peace (CJP) has filed a PIL in the Guwahati High Court after conducting a survey in 10 districts. Following the hearing of the PIL of 12/2021 today, the bench of Chief Justice of the High Court Shudhangshu Dhulia and Justice Manasranjan Pathak has issued notices to the Central and State Governments on the whole matter. A re-hearing of the PIL will be held on 5th April, 2021.
It should be noted that on August 20, 2019, the Union Home Ministry announced the provision of legal aid to those who had been excluded from the NRC. The CJP has raised questions about the ability of the district legal services authority to provide legal assistance to those who are excluded from the NRC to appeal to foreign tribunals. The organisation said it had submitted an application to the Home Secretary of the Assam government to prepare schemes and modalities to provide legal aid to those excluded from the NRC. It also filed an application on behalf of the CJP with the State Legal Services Authority and the Assam State Legal Services Authority with similar demands. On the basis of the organisation’s request, the State Legal Services Authority replied that they have adequate arrangements in the matter of NRC.
It is noteworthy that after such information from the State Legal Services Authority, the CJP conducted a survey in ten districts on how capable and ready legal service providers are to provide legal services. The CJP observed in the court that they had conducted separate surveys in Baksa, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Chirang, Darang, Dhubri, Goalpara, Hailakandi, Kokrajhar and Udalguri districts regarding the readiness of the legal service authorities to provide legal services to the people excluded from the NRC. The survey revealed that legal service officers in 10 districts were not trained in terms of citizenship, NRC provision or foreign law. In addition, no one is present in the office of the Legal Services Authority and the condition inside the office is deplorable. In this context, the organization prays to the court to intervene so that the people excluded from the NRC can get legal help at the right time.