31, Oct 2018 | Zamser Ali
The affidavit submitted by NRC state Co-ordinator, Prateek Hajela in the Supreme Court of India, strongly opposing five crucial documents to be allowed in the ‘Claims’ process, apart from going back on NRC’s own established procedures, also contains hypothetical and unsubstantiated theories. In Part One of our analyses we have laid down how this sudden about turn by the NRC Coordinator, goes against both the Assam Accord and the NRC Rules, SOPs, SSOPs and Modalities. This may be read here.
Guwahati, 30 October: Here we examine the hypothesis behind Hajela’s arguments. The three specific examples, elaborated in the paragraphs 2A (a), (b) and (c) have been elaborated in the paragraph 2(ii), 2(iii) and 2(iv) where some more hypotheses have been elaborated upon and discussed.
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Paragraph 2 (ii) of the Affidavit:
Here, Prateek Hajela has pointed out (citing the examples of (i) Nilakanta Barman, (ii) Ramesh Talukder and (iii) Dilip Bora that, ‘since Legacy Data Codes would be different, the Family Tree Statements (even if frozen) can’t be held against the descendants. Bribing the real descendants to adduce evidence in favour of the impostor(s) will have much higher probability now.’
This hypothesis is imaginary and without substance for the following reasons.
1. Each and every applicant to the NRC had declared either his or his ancestors’ Legacy Data Code — whichever is applicable– at the very top of his application.
2. At the same time, he also had to declare his/ her or his/ her ancestors’ unused Legacy Data Code(s) at the bottom of the application form.
3. In case any person has not declared the unused Legacy Data, this is not the fault of applicants, but of the NRC authority as they have accepted the form without proper scrutiny.
4. Moreover, each and every person was required to declare his/ her or their ancestors place of residence after each decade.
All these facts have not been mentioned in his affidavit which amounts to concealing of the full picture before the Court.
In Paragraph 2 (iv) of the Affidavit, Prateek Hajela has stated that ‘misuse is possible even if fresh Legacy Data Code is restricted.’
He has declared in this paragraph that, ‘there are approximately 2 crore Legacy Data Codes available through the digitised legacy data mechanism, out of which about 1.5 crore have already been collected, of these only around 41 Lakh codes have been used so far.’
Thereafter, the affidavit goes on to allege that, ‘during the process of Family Tree Verification also, a lot of information exchange has happened and public have come to know of a lot of Legacies/ Legacy Data Codes. As such, trading etc. of Legacy Data might still be possible even if display of digitized Legacy Data…’
This contradicts the manner in which the system has been operating so far. The NRC authority has the power to retract the misuse of Legacy Code even if a fresh Legacy Data Code has been submitted.
Besides, this opinion/conclusion of Prateek Hajela is not born out by facts. Reasons:
1. Trading of Legacy Data: Trading of legacy data can be checked as the used legacy data code has been mentioned on the top of the Family Tree Form and the unused legacy data code has also been mentioned at the bottom of the Family Tree Form in the prescribed columns. Record of used legacy data and unused legacy data, which is already with the NRC preparing authority can be utilised to check trading of legacy (as is feared).
2. Change of Legacy person: How can the change in Legacy person be made?
The name or otherwise of the changed legacy person can be verified with the already submitted family tree and the newly to be changed family tree by comparing both the trees.
The Family tree comprises of details of two generations of the family. Now, say for example, a person has used his own legacy data, which is rejected for some reason. Let us test what he can or cannot do. If the person tries to use his ancestor’s, say father’s Legacy data, due to the change in use of Legacy data, the family tree will change. One generation of the changed family tree will be in common with the already submitted family tree . A comparison of the already submitted with the Family Trees yet to be submitted, will serve to verify the genuineness of the lineage/ legacy.
Moreover, if required, this uncommon generation of the family tree, may also be easily otherwise verified as only a few lakh of applicants (in total) have been excluded from the complete NRV draft on this ground: of legacy data rejection.
Paragraph 2 (v) of the Affidavit merely repeats the imaginary problems iterated above and strongly advocates against Legacy Data being allowed or acceptable for the Claim Applications.
Paragraph 3 of the Affidavit:
In paragraph 3 and it’s Sub-paragraphs Prateek Hajela has tried to establish that Refugee Registration Certificates and Citizenship Certificates including its variants should be allowed for the Claim applications due to large scale forgery of such documents. But, citing available data declared in this regard in Paragraph 3 (g) of the Affidavit, Prateek Hajela has made it clear that due to large scale unavailability of backend data and the existence of ‘forged’ documents, these two documents should not be admissible for Claim applications.
Have a look at the reality contained in the facts cited by Hajela’s.
In sub paragraph 3(g) the affidavit cites these figures:
–out of the 94,77,152 birth certificates submitted as Linkage Certificates, 1,78,601 (1.8%) are found to be forged;
— in case of Electoral Rolls from Tripura 1,057 (11.3%) out of 9,322 are reported to be forged.
–in case of the Refugee Registration Certificates and Citizenship Certificates, the percent of forgery is a bare 0.08% and 0.56%.
Some points for consideration:
1. Even by the NRC co-ordinator’s own admission, percentage of forgery is low.
2. It is not argued that forged documents should be made admissible. It is duty of the competent authority to protect the process from forged documents.
3. For the forgery of a few persons, other innocent persons should not be deprived of due process and natural justice.
4. The unavailability of the backend data is not the responsibility of the persons who possess such documents. If the DMIT report can establish the authenticity of such documents, such documents must be taken into consideration.
5. In all cases, the person who possesses forged documents are not responsible for the forged documents. In certain cases it is the issuing authorities who are also involved in such misdeeds.
Those involved in forgery must certainly be punished. But, for the misdeeds of a few, others having genuine documents should not be harassed.
In Paragraph 3(k) of the Affidavit, Prateek Hajela has given an instance of one Nikhil Das, who entered India illegally in 2011 and applied for the NRC. The story of his collecting Refugee Registration Certificate and Electoral Identity Card is a matter of concern. Every person involved with helping Nikhil Das must be punished. But, for one isolated incident all genuine Indian Citizens should not be deprived of justice.
In paragraph 6 of the affidavit, the State Co-ordinator, NRC has cited an example of forgery/ tampering of NRC 1951, which appears clearly to be an attempt to malign the Jamiat-e-Ulema I Hind. The copy of the NRC issued by Jamiat was never an officially acceptable document. It was merely a means to access the True Copy of the NRC-1951 either from a Superintendent of Police or a Deputy Commissioner of the respective District of Assam. Documents which have no legal validity, are being unnecessarily cited by NRC Coordinator to give twist and manipulate the issue.
In the affidavit, Hajela has also made a statement that, a total of 484 cases of misappropriations/ forgery relating to NRC have been sent for Investigation to the Assam Police and the SIT but there has been no outcome from these investigations.
Hajela strongly criticizes the Assam Police for this lapse. Now, it is no coincidence that as matter of fact and record, Prateek Hajela is not only the State Co-ordinator, NRC but he is also Principal Secretary, Department of Home, Government of Assam.
Therefore, if the affidavit exposes both, the failure of Assam Police and/or the Department of Home or Government of Assam, departments with crucial and sensitive duties that Hajela himself heads- a serious question on the ability and competence of Hajela himself comes into question. Does a man who is admitting on affidavit the failure of crucial departments under him, have the moral right to continue as State Co-ordinator of the NRC?