Gram panchayat certificate no proof of citizenship: SC

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Context:

  • A certificate of residency issued by a gram panchayat is not a document of citizenship and is “meaningless” unless supported by some other valid record to make a claim for inclusion in the National Register of Citizenship (NRC), the Supreme Court said.

The Issue:

  • A Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R.F. Nariman said no verification is made before such certificates are issued.
  • The apex court said it will pass orders on whether the Gauhati High Court was right in invalidating the document for making a claim in the NRC or whether further opportunity needs to be given to the people to establish their claims of citizenship.
  • “A certificate issued by gram panchayat secretary is not a document for citizenship, rather it is meaningless unless it is supported by some other valid document for claim to NRC. This is only a supporting document and, for it to be valid, there needs to be proper verification,” the Bench said.

Batch of pleas

  • The apex court was hearing a batch of pleas challenging the Gauhati High Court order holding that a certificate of residency issued by a gram panchayat (village council) secretary was not a legal and valid document for claim to citizenship.
  • About 48 lakh claims have been made using certificates issued by gram panchayat secretaries, out of a total of 3.29 crore claims made so far for inclusion in the NRC which is being prepared in Assam to identify illegal migrants.
  • The draft NRC is required to be published on or before December 31.

National Register of Citizens (NRC)

  • The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is the register containing details of all Indian citizens.
  • After conducting the Census of 1951, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was prepared by recording particulars of all the persons enumerated during the 1951 Census.
  • NRC was prepared under a directive from the Ministry of Home affairs (MHA).
  • It was prepared by recording particulars of all the persons enumerated during that Census and was further kept in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers according to instructions issued by the Government of India in 1951. Later these registers were transferred to the Police in the early 1960s.

Source:TH