New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the Centre, the Assam government and the Election Commission in a response to a petition challenging the ‘deletion of names’ from the state’s electoral list of those who did not make it to the draft National Register for Citizens (NRC) published on July 30, 2018.
The Apex court bench comprised of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, who issued the notices while hearing the petition filed by social activist Gopal Seth.
The plea referred to the case of Susanta Sen, a resident of Sivasagar district in the state of Assam. The petitioner’s counsel Pijush K Roy said Sen’s name had been deleted from the voters’ list as it did not appear in draft NRC published on July 30, 2018.
The petition said Sen’s name had appeared in the 2014 voters’ list but his name has now been deleted as it did not make it to the NRC, though “the name of other family members of the Petitioner have figured in the Draft NRC”.
Sen contended that “the right to vote in the democratic system is a constitutional right regulated by the statutory law and the freedom of a citizen to participate in the election process to choose their representative is a constitutional as well as statutory right, which cannot be taken away by any stretch of imagination.”
The petition added that “in the present case, a large number of population who are citizens of India by birth or any other process, who are ordinarily residents of Assam and were exercising their voting rights since they became adult… and it is because sudden deletion of their names from the draft NRC they are going to be deprived from their statutory rights”.
The petition also urged the court to declare “the deletion of innumerable number of voters from the Electoral Rolls in the State of Assam pending publication of final NRC as discriminatory, arbitrary, and illegal in gross violation/contravention to the provisions laid down in Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1985 and the Representation of People Act, 1951”.
It also sought a direction to the Election Commission “to forthwith restore the names of the persons deleted from the Electoral Rolls in the State of Assam on the basis of the draft NRC…”