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CAG Audit Report On Assam’s NRC

CAG Audit Report On Assam’s NRC:

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has 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.

CAG Recommended:

  • 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”.

NRC Exercise:

  • It contains demographic information on all legal Indian citizens, allowing illegal immigrants to be recognised and deported.
  • It is mandated under a 2003 amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955, which specifies the criteria under which a person obtains Indian citizenship.
  • Until now, such a database has only been maintained for Assam. However, India’s Home Minister recently stated that the register would be expanded to include the entire country.
  • 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