The Election Commission has decided that the registered voters in Assam who were not included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will not be marked “doubtful” and can keep voting in elections until a Foreigners’ tribunal takes a decision on their case.
Doubtful or ‘D’ voters are a category of voters in Assam whose citizenship is uncertain or under dispute. In 1997, the EC had introduced this at the time of revising the state’s voter list. However, voters under ‘D’ category continue to remain on Assam’s electoral roll, they cannot vote in an election unless their case is decided by a Foreigners’ Tribunal. In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, around 1.2 lakh ‘D’ voters did not participate,
Meanwhile, those excluded from the draft NRC were allowed to vote. On August 30, the final NRC included 3.11 crore applicants as citizens and excluded 19 lakh. After publication, the Commission faced the legal question of whether non-inclusion makes a person’s citizenship doubtful and if she should be marked as ‘Doubtful’ till her citizenship is decided by the Foreigners’ Tribunal.
Clarifying doubts about the individuals left out of the list, the Union Home Ministry said that the absence of names in the NRC does not amount to them being declared foreigners; they have a window to prove their citizenship before tribunals.
The Supreme Court-monitored citizen’s list exercise was aimed at determining who was born in Assam and who came from Bangladesh or other neighbouring regions. Those who can prove they were residents of Assam up to midnight on March 24, 1971 — a day before Bangladesh declared its independence from Pakistan – are considered citizens by the NRC.