Guwahati, October 14: Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev on Friday maintained that her PIL before the Supreme Court, seeking issuance of Aadhaar cards to NRC applicants in Assam whose names have figured in the final draft of the citizenship document, is a case for the fundamental right of life.
She said the government is yet to even notify the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft, even after three years of publishing it, and wondered how can people be denied Aadhaar cards on this pretext.
Over 27 lakh NRC applicants in the state had submitted their biometrics during the claims and objections phase of updating the NRC. Out of these, 19 lakh names were not included in the final draft of NRC published on August 31, 2019.
They are now facing problems in generating Aadhaar cards as their biometrics have been “locked” as per a Supreme Court directive, which is overseeing the NRC updation process.
“It is not a case on citizenship, it is a case on the fundamental right to life in the state,” Dev told PTI, referring to her PIL that was heard in the Supreme Court on Thursday by a bench comprising Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Bela M Trivedi.
“The AG (Attorney General) is granted two weeks’ time to seek appropriate instructions in the matter. He may put in a note so that issues can be resolved on the next date,” the bench said, listing the matter for November 9.
Dev said the Attorney General had reacted “very well” in court and she was hopeful of an early resolution.
“Our contention is that Aadhaar does not prove citizenship of a person; even non-citizens are given Aadhaar cards. Then, on what basis people in Assam are being denied this document, especially since NRC is yet to be notified?” she said.
“You (government) are not acting on the NRC, you are not notifying it, then why should it be used in a manner detrimental to the people of Assam?” Dev added.
The Rajya Sabha MP claimed that youths from the state are being denied job opportunities outside, as they are unable to provide their Aadhaar details.
She said the state cabinet is also in “favour” of issuing Aadhaar cards to the NRC applicants. “We should just close this matter and give the people their human rights.”
Dev also mentioned that the Supreme Court has clarified that “no regressive measures” will be taken on the basis of the NRC until the final draft is notified.
“The government of India has to decide whether we will accept the NRC or not,” she said.
Earlier, the Assam government had said that it has written at least twice to the Centre in the last two years, urging officials concerned to allow the Aadhaar card issuing authority to access the biometrics of at least those whose names figured in the final NRC draft.
A cabinet sub-committee was also formed to discuss on the way forward.
The state cabinet in its meeting on April 21 this year had decided to file an interlocutory application in the top court for providing Aadhaar cards to these applicants.
As per official data, over 85 per cent of people in the state have registered for Aadhaar cards till February 28, 2022. (PTI)