The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that “lakhs of illegal migrants have been included in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC)” being prepared in Assam to identify Indian citizens from amongst all the residents of the state.

Solicitor General (SG) and senior Supreme Court lawyer, Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and Assam government said that lakhs of people have been wrongly included in the NRC list in alleged collusion with local NRC officials in the state.

“Illegal immigrants have to be dealt with severely. India cannot be the refugee capital of the world,” he argued.

Mehta further pleaded the Supreme Court to extend the July 31 deadline for the finalisation of the National Register of Citizens or NRC

Both the Centre and the state government had moved the Supreme Court seeking an extension of the July 31 deadline.

Till last month, over one lakh people more were excluded from the draft NRC published in Assam.

However, the excluded people were given a chance to file their claims at the designated NRC help centres by July 11.

The additional exclusion list comprised names of 1,02,462 persons. These are the people whose names were included in the draft NRC published on July 30 last year but subsequently found ineligible.

The draft published on July 30, 2018, included the names of 2.9 crore people out of total applications of 3.29 crore. Forty lakh people were left out in the draft.

The update process of NRC started in 2013 when the Supreme Court of India passed orders for its update. Since then, the apex court bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R Fali Nariman has been monitoring it continuously. The entire project is headed by the State Coordinator of National Registration, Assam, Prateek Hajela under the strict monitoring of the Supreme Court.

This May, the Supreme Court had asked the National Register of Citizens Coordinator to provide a fair chance to those who have challenged the non-inclusion of their names in the NRC in Assam.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi further told Coordinator Prateek Hajela to “not cut short the process as they have to meet the deadline of July 31.”

The top court has reiterated that the July 31 deadline for the publication of final Assam NRC draft was non-negotiable and it should not be met at the expense of those who have filed claims for inclusion of their names in the National Register of Citizens.

The court has allowed claimants for the citizens’ list to rely on five documents which were earlier objected to by NRC coordinator.