NRC In Assam And Its Possibility In India

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 13th, 2023


  • National Register of Citizens is a register prepared after the conduct of the Census of 1951 for recording citizens, their houses and holdings.
  • From the British era itself (1826-1947) Assam has been facing several waves of migration from the then East Bangal (present Bangladesh) and other areas for working in tea plantation. 
  • Apart from earlier migration, two major waves of migration to Assam came, first after the partition of India in 1947 and then during the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.
  • These migrations in Assam affected the culture, employment opportunities, political control and availability of resources to local Assamese and this led to a mass agitation by All Assam Students Union (AASU) for six long years from 1979 to 1985.
  • AASU demanded the updation of NRC, identification of illegal migrants and their deportation out of the country. 
  • The mass agitation in Assam halted after an agreement between the Government of India and AASU in 1985 known as Assam Accord.
  • It was made applicable only for the state of Assam.
  • However, due to various reasons, the updation of NRC got delayed, and AASU and other organisations in Assam filed a petition at the Supreme Court for the same.
  • In December 2014, the apex court ordered for updation of NRC in a time-bound manner under its supervision.
  • The NRC of 1951 and the Electoral Roll of 1971 were taken as Legacy Data for same, and the Persons and their descendants whose names were found in these documents are to be certified as Indian citizens. 

Assam Accord

  • It was a Memorandum of Settlement signed in 1985 between the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement.
  • The accord ended the Assam Agitation and paved the way for the political stability in the state.
  • As per this Accord, the Citizenship Act of 1955 was amended and declared that all Indian origin people who came from Bangladesh before January 1, 1966, to be deemed as citizens. 
  • However, those who came between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, were eligible for citizenship through registration after living in the state for ten years. 
  • Those who entered in the State after March 25, 1971, were to be treated illegal immigrants and were to be deported.

Recent developments

  • The process of NRC update started in Assam as per a Supreme Court order in 2013 under provisions framed in the Assam Accord.
  • The verification involved house-to-house physical field verification, the authenticity of documents, family tree investigations of parenthood and special hearings for married women.
  • The first draft of updated NRC was released by the government of Assam on July 30, 2018. Out of 3.3 crore applicant, this list incorporates the names of only 2.9 crore people. The names of around 40.07 lakh people were left out.
  • On August 31 2019, the second updated National Registry of Citizens was released by government of Assam after reviewing and decision on appeal. In this second list out of 3.3 crore applicants, almost 3.11 crore figured in the final citizens’ list, however around 19 lakh residents were left out. 
  • The people who have been excluded need to file an appeal against their exclusion to the foreigner tribunals within 120 days. Two hundred new tribunals have been set up in addition to the already existing tribunals to speed up the process. Those who have been excluded may also move to the high court or the Supreme Court for redressal of any grievances if any. 
  • This NRC exercise is the biggest in India and is being carried out under the proper supervision of the Supreme Court.

Need of a separate National Register of Citizens

  • This was required to handle the massive migration of people to Assam from adjoining areas, especially Bangladesh.
  • To protect the culture and traditions of the Assamese people. 
  • To protect the job opportunities and other resources for the local people of Assam.
  • To ensure peace and security in the region.
  • For the protection of the identity of the indigenous people of Assam. 
  • It was necessary for the environment and ecology of the area as land encroachment by the illegal migrants was a big issue.

Possibility of NRC throughout India

  • Recently, the Union Home Minister asserted that the NRC would be introduced throughout India and all illegal immigrants will be deported out of the country through legal means. 
  • As this is National Register of Citizens, the list of all legitimate citizens of the country needs to be included in the list and all illegal migrants’ needs to be deported as per the procedure established by the law. 
  • The greatest challenge will be the date from which the NRC is to be updated in the whole country, as demographic dividend has changed a lot after independence.
  • This will require the consent of the state governments and this may create a conflict between the Union and state government which may be detrimental to the cooperative federalism. 
  • Allocation of funds for the NCR throughout India is another challenge as the government is already facing budgetary constraints due to its investments in other developmental projects. The government has already missed its fiscal deficit targets.
  • Political consensus between the various political parties is also important for passing the required legislation in the parliament.
  • Implementation of religion-based NRC throughout India may create controversy and constitutional deadlock and hence change in some of its provision for its implementation in the whole country. 
  • Even after identification of illegal migrants, their deportation may be a big issue, as the number may be huge.
  • Implementation of NRC throughout the country may affect the international relations with other neighbouring countries, which will require separate diplomatic negotiations and may affect trade and commerce.  

Way forward

  • There have been cases of procedural error and mistakes which needs to be corrected and a fair chance be given to all concerned to prove his citizenship.
  • The Bangladesh government may be taken into confidence for taking any action against illegal migrants from Bangladesh. 
  • The deportation procedure may be concluded through a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Bangladesh government for smooth transition and deportation of illegal migrants.
  • Muslim community of the country may be taken into confidence by justifying the reasons for the requirement of such religion-based policy for finding illegal migrants in the country. 
  • Every effort needs to be taken so that every genuine citizen of the country is given its citizenship and rights. 

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