Guwahati: The Mumbai based rights-body Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), on Monday moved the Gauhati High Court seeking apposite legal aid for those excluded from National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, which was released on August 31, 2019.
The rights body filed a petition before the court after conducting a survey of 10 District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) establishments in Assam. The petition cites the fact that DLSAs had suffered from under-staffing and poor training among para legal volunteers and poor infrastructure.
The NRC list that was published on August 31, 2019 was monitored by the Supreme Court. The list eliminated 19.06 lakh people who were stripped of citizenship rights based on document to support their claim, unless they could appeal the decision and get enrolled with sufficient documentation.
A total of 3,30,27,661 had applied for citizenship, and only 3,11,21,004 people were included in the NRC list.
A majority of those left out from the list are believed to be Bengali Muslims and Hindus besides Gorkhas.
CJP secretary Teesta Setalvad said her organisation has been writing letters to the National Legal Services Authority and the Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA) since April last year after the Union Home Ministry's statement on August 20, 2019, that legal assistance would be given to those people excluded from the NRC list, if they need legal support.
The ASLSA in last November said that it was well-equipped to deal with any action taken by the government with regards to NRC and that legal camps would be organised after rejection slips are handed out to the 19.06 lakh people explaining the reasons for their exclusion.
The CJP conducted a study of the functioning of the DLSAs in the 10 districts of Assam's 34 districts and found they have 273 active advocates appointed for legal aid and 333 para legal volunteers whose educational qualifications varied from district to district.
"No training on citizenship, immigration, NRC, Foreigners' Act and related issues was given to the concerned persons in any of these 10 DLSAs. Seven Foreigners' Tribunal (FT) cases were handled by the counsel of the DLSA in 2019 and three in 2020 in Dhubri district, no FT cases appeared to have been dealt with by the counsel of the other nine DLSAs," the CJP said.
The Gauhati High Court has issued notices to the authorities concerned and posted it for next hearing on April 5.
(Based on IANS feed)