The Bench disagreed with NRC Co-ordinator Prateek Hajela’s conclusion in his October 4 report that since these five documents could be easily forged, they should not be permitted to be used.
“We do not think you are right, Mr. Hajela,” Justice Nariman told him.
“We are of the view that objection of Mr. Hajela to the five documents in question and specifically with regard to the documents listed at Serial Nos. (i) and (ii) i.e. names in NRC, 1951; and names in Electoral Roll up to 24th March, 1971 is based entirely on a possibility of abuse which, however, strong, cannot be an acceptable reason in law to exclude the documents from consideration,” Chief Justice Gogoi observed in the 18-page order for the Bench.
The court had been worried about how fail-safe these documents would prove to be. Chief Justice Gogoi had orally wondered whether these documents could be ‘manufactured.’
Hajela’s negative report had confirmed the court's apprehensions. He had advised against the use of the five documents.
Instead, on Thursday, the court struck a balance. It said the answer lay in allowing the use of these five records, subject to additional and thorough verification.
It asked Hajela to prepare the groundwork for fool-proof verification of claims. The court directed Hajela to submit a report after December 15.
The five documents are part of a total of 15 listed by the Centre in its draft Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) for vetting the claims and objections of over 40 lakh people excluded from the final draft of the NRC.
The court went on to approve the modified SoP.
All through, the Centre has vociferously supported the inclusion of the five documents.