Why in News?
- The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has recently detected large-scale anomalies in the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
- At the time, the process to update the NRC was started in December 2014 with a deadline for completion in February 2015 and the project cost was pegged at Rs. 288.18 crores.
- There was, however, a five-fold increase in the cost by March 2022 due to additional time to complete it and changes in the update software.
- As for irregularities, the CAG found that the number of wages paid to the outsourced staff was 45.59%-64.27% less than what was approved by the NRC coordination committee.
- In the NRC update process, a highly secure and reliable software was required to be developed, however, lack of proper planning was observed in this regard to the extent of 215 software utilities were added in a haphazard manner to the core software.
- The country’s top auditor sought penal measures against Wipro Limited for violating the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 and for paying data operators less than minimum wages.
- Information technology firm Wipro Limited was entrusted with one of the prime software installation companies by the NRC Directorate.
- Secondly, the report recommended action against the State Coordinator of National Registration (SCNR) for “excess, irregular and inadmissible payments”.
- The CAG also recommended fixing accountability of the SCNR as the principal employer for “not ensuring compliance with the Minimum Wage Act”.
- An NRC was first created in 1951 in Assam to identify those born in India and migrants from erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
- In 2013, the Supreme Court issued directions to the Centre and State to initiate an exercise in Assam to update the 1951 register.
- The order was based on a petition filed by an NGO named Assam Public Works.
- The first draft was released in 2018.
- The final list, published in 2019, included those who could establish their Indian citizenship by being residents or descendants of people living in Assam before March 25, 1971 (the cut-off date for deportation of foreigners as per the Assam Accord of August 1985).
- As many as 19.06 lakh people out of 3.3 crore applicants were excluded due to a lack of adequate documents to prove their citizenship. Several parties dismissed the final list as “faulty”.
- Three years later, the process is on pause as the Registrar General of India (RGI) is yet to notify the final list.