The Gauhati High Court has stayed the termination of 252 Junior Assistants (JA) who had been engaged on a contractual basis to update Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC), monitored by the Supreme Court.
The assistants were served a termination notice on March 26, three days after the Registrar General of India (RGI) ordered the closure of the NRC office in Assam and refused to sanction funds after March 31.
Employed in February 2015, they were stationed at the district, sub-division and circle levels with fixed monthly remuneration under the NRC related works.
A response has been sought from the Centre, RGI, Assam’s Chief Secretary, Home and Political Department Secretary and State NRC Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma. They have been given two weeks’ time.
The court observed : “…prima facie I am satisfied that though admittedly the petitioners were engaged on the basis of specific terms of contract, however, keeping in view that the service of the petitioners are governed under Service Regulations, 2014, there is a case to be heard as to whether the issuance of the impugned notice of March 26, 2021 is proper in terms of the Service Regulations, 2014 and various terms and expression under the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.”
The draft of the NRC was published in August 2019, excluding 19.06 lakh people out of 3.3 crore applicants. Each of the 19.06 lakh NRC axed people was to have been issued rejection slips citing the reasons for their exclusion soon after the publication of the draft.
However, the rejection slips are yet to be issued for the excluded people to approach a Foreigners’ Tribunal within 120 days of receiving them.
Around a hundred tribunals are tasked to scrutinise the documents of the excluded people and to decide if an excluded person would remain debarred or make it to the NRC.