Hajela Transferred Because Of Govt Pressure?
With Hajela’s transfer and CJI Ranjan Gogoi set to retire before the next NRC hearing in the Supreme Court, the entire NRC process is in limbo
Various questions are being raised after the Supreme Court transferred National Register of Citizens (NRC) coordinator Prateek Hajela to his home state Madhya Pradesh, the main being whether the IAS officer requested the bench of the court to transfer him.
“He had requested the Chief Justice of India to transfer him elsewhere as he was unhappy and under tremendous pressure from all corners including the government,” said a highly placed source who is close to Hajela.
The source also expressed that after the mammoth task of publishing the final NRC list, the government did not appreciate his work; rather he was receiving criticism from all corners.
After the final draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) list was published on 30th July 2018, the Supreme Court had then expressed its displeasure with the NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela and Registrar General of India (RGI) Sailesh for speaking to the media reprimanding them for statements made to the media on the NRC modalities while nothing had been informed to the court. As a result, the NRC coordinator refrained from speaking to the media when the final draft list was published.
But, as soon as the NRC final list was published on 31st August last, various political parties began questioning the intent of the NRC coordinator and also slammed him for alleged “discrepancies” in the final NRC list.
The source revealed that he was under tremendous pressure from various political parties but he only listened to the Supreme Court and worked according to the Supreme Court’s orders. The source said that the Supreme Court was monitoring the entire process and yet the political parties and even the government was unhappy with the NRC coordinator who has at least had managed to publish the first ever NRC in Assam after so many years of the Assam Accord being signed (1985).
Hajela would be on deputation for a maximum period, said a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. The court asked the government to issue the transfer order immediately.
"Is there a reason for this?" the government's lawyer, Attorney General KK Venogupal, asked the judges.
"No order will be without a reason," the Chief Justice replied. The order did not give a reason.
With the shocking order of the court the NRC process is again at stake as sources in the NRC secretariat revealed that it is not clear yet who will send the rejection order to the 19 lakh applicants whose name did not figure in the final NRC list.
Hajela, a native of Madhya Pradesh and a 1995-batch IAS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre, was appointed the NRC coordinator by the Supreme Court to oversee the mammoth and sensitive exercise of finalizing and publishing the Assam NRC data.
Another twist to the story is that CJI Ranjan Gogoi will retire on November 17 this year and was heading the Supreme Court in significant cases, including the Ayodhya title dispute and the National Register of Citizens. Gogoi will retire on 17th November and the next hearing of NRC is slated on 26th November. Now, with Hajela who knew the entire process moving out and Gogoi retiring, what will be the fate of the NRC process is something to indeed brainstorm over.