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SC orders immediate transfer of Assam NRC chief Prateek Hajela to MP, no reasons given

The order comes in the wake of two FIRs having been lodged against Prateek Hajela, for ‘discrepancies’ in the final NRC list.

SNS | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the immediate transfer of Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) coordinator Prateek Hajela to Madhya Pradesh on deputation.

Hajela would be on deputation for a maximum period, said a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. The court further directed the government to notify his transfer within seven days.

On being asked by the Government lawyer, Attorney General KK Venugopal, if there was a reason behind the move, the CJI said, “No order will be without a reason”.

However, no reasons were specified by the top court.

The order comes in the wake of two FIRs having been lodged against Prateek Hajela, for “discrepancies” in the final NRC list.

A lawyer and indigenous Muslim students organisation — All Assam Goriya-Moriya Yuva Chatra Parishad (AAGMYCP) — had filed separate FIRs against Hajela in Dibrugarh and Guwahati.

Chandan Mazumdar, whose name did not figure in the final NRC list, also filed a complaint against Hajela at Dibrugarh police station.

Mazumdar alleged that he had submitted all documents, but his name was not included in the updated NRC due to “inefficiency and criminal conspiracy of employees”.

Another complaint against the state coordinator claimed “deliberate” anomalies in the final list.

“The names of many indigenous people were excluded from the list, and it was done deliberately by the NRC state coordinator,” the FIR filed by the students’ organisation said.

Hajela was not available for comments, as he has been barred by the Supreme Court from speaking to the media.

The final National Register of Citizens (NRC) list in Assam was published on August 31, including names of 3.1 crore people and leaving out 19 lakh names. A total of 3,11,21,004 persons found eligible for inclusion in final NRC leaving out 19,06,657 persons including those who did not submit their claims.

The NRC is a list of all citizens domiciled in Assam and is being updated at present to retain bonafide citizens within the state and evict illegal settlers, purportedly migrants from Bangladesh.

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 was headed by the State Coordinator of National Registration, Assam, Prateek Hajela under the strict monitoring of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court move has come as a surprise for many.

Prateek Hajela is a 1995-batch IAS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre. Hajela, who hails from Madhya Pradesh, had led a team of 52,000 officials that sifted through over six crore documents of 3.3 crore applicants, in one of the most complex exercise to validate the Indian citizenship of the residents of Assam.

Drawing on his technological expertise, Hajela, who has a B.Tech degree in Electronics from IIT, Delhi, introduced an innovative mechanism for collecting and collating data of the family tree of every resident of Assam.

The legacy data consisted of the names of residents or their descendants who figured in the first NRC prepared in 1951, or in any of the electoral rolls up to the the midnight of March 24, 1971, or any other admissible document which would prove their presence in Assam or any part of India on or before that date.