New Delhi: In a major relief to 48 lakh married women in Assam, the Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside the Guwahati High Court order which said a residency certificate issued by the gram panchayat had "no statutory sanctity" to make a claim in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam".
In the wake of High Court’ verdict a sword of Damocles was hanging over head of married women who have to settle in their hubbys’ town after marriage. PLC was the only option for them to prove their citizenship link.
The apex court, which is monitoring the updation of National Register of Citizens (NRC), said that Gram Panchayat Certificates can be used to establish linkages after the verification process.
The Supreme Court also rejected the government’s move to categorize citizens into original inhabitants and not original inhabitants and clearly stated that there would be only category and this is ‘Indian Citizens’.
While lauding the Apex Court verdict, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind General Secretary, Mahmood Madani and Badruddin Ajmal Qasmi, MP and President Jamiat Ulama Assam termed the verdict historic, saying that the apex court has ensured safety of lakhs of Assamese citizens.
“This was the case of dignity, prestige and human values for lakhs of Indian women” said Mahmood Madani.
In view of sensitive nature of the issue, Jamiat Ulama Assam had filed a writ petition in the Apex Court for challenging the judgment of Guwahati High Court. The SC Court has completed its hearing on the matter on December, 2, 2017 and has delivered its final judgment today.
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and Jamiat Ulama-i-Assam had filed petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the Guwhati High Court’s order on behalf of Monowwra Bewa and Rupjan Begam. The hearing was completed on 22 November, 2017 and the judgment was reserved.
"It was not an issue related to these two women only but was affecting citizenship of lakhs of people", Qasmi said.
Preparation and updation of National Register for Citizens (NRC) in Assam has been underway under the supervision of the Apex Court of India since last three years. The coordinator for the NRC in Assam, Prateek Hajela in his submission on 12 October 2017 told the Supreme Court that of the nearly 48 lakh people whose Panchayat certificates were invalidated by the Guwahati High Court, about 17 lakh have been identified as Original Inhabitants (OI). The rest are being examined.
Sensing the graveness of this differentiation between the original and non-original inhabitants, a separate petition was filed by the Jamiat in the Supreme Court against this differentiation challenging its legality and demanding a definition of the same.
The advocates of the Assam Government and the Central Government failed to convince the SC by providing a satisfactory definition of the issue.
"The recent judgment proved a big blow to the conspiracy hatched to deprive many people of their rightful citizenship of India", Jamiat Ulama Assam said.
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