• The Society For Constitutional Law Discussion

NRC: A Matter of HUMANITY, EQUALITY and SECLUSION

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Authored by Saranya Unni, a 2nd year student at VIT School of law, Chennai.


Abstract

The NRC (National Register of citizens of India) helps the Indian government to maintain a record of the real citizens of India which can further help the government in the future implementation of people-centric plans in long run. But the implementation of the NRC act has left a negative impact on civil society forcing the people into a traumatic situation of mental agony .it has been reported that several people have hanged themselves to death when their existence in their homeland became a question mark. Lakhs of people are left with no choice of residing in their homeland with the implementation of the national register of citizens. The government has not taken into consideration the identity issue of the citizens. The seclusion of the lakhs of people declaring them as noncitizens is an actual question of humanity. The government suggests that the secluded people may resort to the legal aid of approaching the foreign tribunals. To what extent is it practically possible to hear the cases of nearly nineteen lakhs of people is still an issue of doubt. By the time the courts decide on the decisions, there is no certainty that the people will be able to regain their land and enjoy the rights of a civilian. The NRC gives citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians, and Jains from Bangladesh Pakistan, and Afghanistan. But it openly discriminates the other religious communities like some minority communities of Muslims and the Jews. This is a violation of the right to equality and the right against discrimination based on religion. There is more emphasis given to the aspect of violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens and how this discrimination can leave a detrimental impact in India. The author tries to give a detailed analysis of the existing scenario faced by the Indian citizens. The author also tries to give possible suggestions to deal with the problem before the scene can become more traumatic and worse.

Keywords-fundamental rights, humanity, Jews, Muslim, tribunal

Introduction

The National register of citizens better known as NRC has attracted the attention of the masses. But in fact, the NRC existed much before that is back in 1951 when the register was published containing the details of the citizens of Assam[1]. It was later updated in 2005. The NRC can help the registered citizens have a better life as they will get the benefits out of the people-centric schemes and programs of the government. The registered citizens will then be given more importance as they will be legally recognized as the citizens of India. But the NRC has brought along with it various other negative effects also. The growing tension among the civilians is that on implementing the same, lakhs of people will be forced to leave their home country with no choice of living in their own homeland. This can leave a detrimental impact on the lives of civilians in the long run. The constitution of India guarantees to its citizens the right to equality under article 14 and prevents all sorts of discrimination against its citizens on the basis of caste, creed, religion, gender, etc. The NRC is a plain violation of the aforestated fundamental rights. The register discriminates against the other minority communities of Muslims and Jews as it does not even recognize them as minority citizens.

The impact of NRC on the civil society

It is an undeniable fact that the registered citizens under NRC are eligible to get the government scheme benefits and can also enjoy all the fundamental rights as per the constitution of independent India. But there are a few issues that are faced by the people. In fact, these issues have been discussed nationwide which conveys their very own importance. The identity crisis faced by the civilians is the primary matter of concern. According to the law, the persons whose name has appeared in the NRC list of 1951 are eligible to get registered in the new list of NRC.[2] People whose names were included in the electoral rolls in 1971 and their descendants. The people who moved to Assam in 1971 are also eligible to get registered in the new list. But there are also cases in which they can claim the same but they don’t have the adequate documents to prove the same. The relatives of the immigrants are also eligible to apply for registration but the issue here lies in the fact that they also have to provide them the documentary evidence of the same. With this mere fact, thousands of people face mental agony and have ended up attempting suicide in parts of Assam and West Bengal. There is absolutely very little chance that immigrants who left their countries will have the necessary documentary evidence in their homeland. At last, they may end up in a situation where they will neither be able to return to their own countries or back to India. The other associated issue includes that there are families with children who are the natural citizens of India but their parents and relatives of the foreign country. In that case, the children will have to live separate from their family in a faraway place which will make their future dark and will force them to live a secluded life. This raises the question of humanity. The NRC can affect not only the immigrants but their families, especially children. The future of the children of immigrants will be in the dark if they are secluded. The later rehabilitation of these will be very difficult as they literally don’t have any evidence of their existence when they are not recognized as the citizens of India. Also, there is no certainty that even when the immigrants are forced to go back to their own country, they will be accepted. Even if they are accepted, the vast opportunities for living and increasing their living standards may not be found in the other countries in the same as found in India. When the parents are not able to meet the standards of better living and education in particular the lives of thousands of children also becomes hard. The condition of India can also be worst when lakhs of immigrants are forced to leave the country. It will leave a negative impact on Population and employment. The authorities state that the secluded people can approach the foreign tribunal. But the whole judicial process of approaching the foreign tribunals is time-consuming and cumbersome. The lower middle the poor and the lower strata of the immigrants may be denied legal aid in that case. The largest number of people getting affected in these northeastern areas because they share their border with Bangladesh and other neighboring countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. The authorities have taken into consideration the situation of the so-called illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan but not the countries like Myanmar. NRC so far affected only the regions of Assam but the latest news reports state that the same is going to be implemented in Karnataka as well.


The constitutional provisions related to civil society

The constitution guarantees to all its citizens the right to equality and the right against discrimination when the Jews and minority sections of Muslims are ignored from the register, they are being openly discriminated against on the basis of their religion. The constitution prevents religious discrimination. The immigrants are less in number can hence be considered as minorities. They come within the definition of minority. The constitution recognizes the rights of minorities. The directive principles of state policy clearly stated in article 39 that the state shall provide the minorities with equal justice. Thus it is the duty of the responsible authorities to take adequate measures to ensure the justice of the minority. The fundamental right under Article 15(3) clearly states that the state shall not be prevented from making special provisions for the upliftment of minorities. Article 350(B) especially mandates that the president shall appoint a special officer to investigate matters concerning minorities.

Suggestions

The first and foremost suggestion will be to provide adequate information to the people and create large-scale awareness among the people in order to prevent the traumatic condition. This can prevent suicidal deaths. Instead of making the situation worse, the government needs to appoint a fast-track committee that would study and give detailed reports without any bias but at the same time take into consideration the humanitarian values. The report should highlight the difficulties faced by the people After all, the matter of the civilians needs the matter of utmost importance, care and protection as far as the nation is concerned. The next suggestion will be to provide free legal aid to the people considering them as the minority. Another suggestion is to organize a meeting with the heads of the various neighboring countries in order to know their stand and their suggestion. Every family who leaves India on the grounds of denying citizenship needs to be provided with special benefits to the immigrants. The close relatives of the immigrants along with them when forced to leave the country, can disrupt the peace and security of the nation. The attempt of India to recover from these changes will be quite challenging and it consumes a lot of time and effort.

Conclusion

As already mentioned NRC does have its own positives and negatives. The NRC denies to its citizens the basic fundamental rights and does not protect the citizens from being openly discriminated against. NRC doesn’t take into consideration the humanitarian aspect of life and this can leave a detrimental impact on India. The judiciary has to step in and find the possible solutions to solve the problem before it can get more worsened. But at present, there is a need to create awareness among the people in order to prevent the situation from being more traumatic. The people need to be informed about the register and this should happen with awareness not to get panicked right from the village level. Before India can witness the more detrimental impacts of the NRC, the actions need to be taken on time.


[1]https://scroll.in/article/889005/road-to-citizens-register-a-timeline-showing-the-milestones-in-assams-history-from-1947-to-2018 [2]https://www.indiatoday.in/information/story/what-is-nrc-here-is-what-you-need-to-know-1552817-2019-06-20

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