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Gauhati High Court stays termination of 252 NRC workers

The termination of 252 junior assistants hired on a contract basis to upgrade Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC), as supervised by the Supreme Court, has been stayed by the Gauhati High Court.

On March 26, three days after the Registrar General of India ordered the closure of the NRC office in Assam and declined to approve funds after March 31, the JAs received a termination notice.

The JAs were recruited in February 2015 for NRC-related employment with a fixed monthly remuneration at the district, sub-division, and circle levels.

According to a High Court official, Justice Prasanta Kumar Deka, after hearing the petition filed by Biplab Kumar Medhi and 251 other JAs, directed that their service be continued.

“Status quo as of today shall be retained in view of the current petitioners’ service,” the judge wrote in his 47-page decision.

Justice Deka has sent a notice to the Centre, the RGI, Assam’s Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, and State NRC Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma, which is due back in two weeks.

“By all appearances, I am satisfied that, while the applicants were locked in based on explicit terms of the agreement, I am satisfied that, while the applicants were locked in based on explicit terms of the agreement, bearing in mind that the assistance of the candidates is administered under Service Regulations, 2014, there is a case to be heard with respect to whether the issuance of the upbraided notice of March 26, 2021, is legitimate as far as the Service Regulations, 2014 and different terms and articulation under the Citizenship (Issue of National Identity Cards and Registration of Citizens) Rules, 2003,” the appointed authority said.

In August 2019, the draught of the NRC was released, excluding 19.06 lakh citizens from a total of 3.3 crore applicants. Soon after the draught was released, each of the 19.06 lakh citizens was supposed to receive rejection slips stating the reasons for their omission. The exclusion slips, on the other hand, are yet to be released, allowing disqualified persons to file a claim with a Foreigners’ Tribunal within 120 days of obtaining them. Around a hundred tribunals are charged with reviewing the documents of those who have been banned from entering the country and deciding if they can stay debarred or be admitted to the NRC.

The tribunals have the authority to label a man a foreigner under the Assam Accord of 1985, which mandates the detention and deportation of immigrants who entered the state after March 24, 1971. Based on this cut-off date, Assam’s National Register of Citizens is being revised.

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Written by Ankur J Kakoti

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