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What is the CAG audit report on Assam’s NRC?

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation


Source: TH

 Direction: The article highlights the NRC exercise in Assam and the issues raised in a recent CAG report. The article also covers the exercise of delimitation of constituencies that recently began in Assam.

 Context: The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) have flagged serious concerns in a compliance report of ‘logistical arrangements for National Register of Citizens (NRC) update project in Assam’ tabled in the Assam Assembly recently.

What is the 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 (on a petition urging the removal of illegal immigrants’ names from voter lists), the Supreme Court issued directions to the Centre and State to initiate an exercise to update the 1951 register.
  • The final list (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 06 lakh people out of 3.3 crore applicants were excluded due to a lack of adequate documents to prove their citizenship.
  • The final list was rejected by some stakeholders as faulty, and the process is still on hold because the Registrar General of India (RGI) is yet to notify the final list.

Findings in the CAG report:

  • Haphazard development of software for the exercise, making it prone to data tampering.
  • Undue profits worth crores amassed by the system integrator (SI) by violating the Minimum Wages Act.

Concerns raised by the CAG:

  • The process to update the NRC has seen a five-fold increase in the cost (Rs 1,600 crore) due to time overruns and updates in the software.
  • Irregularities in the utilisation of funds including excess and inadmissible payment to vendors.

Recommendations of the CAG:

  • Penal measures against Wipro Limited for violating the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act and for paying data operators less than minimum wages.
  • Action against the State Coordinator of National Registration (SCNR) for excess, irregular and inadmissible payments.
  • Fixing accountability of the SCNR as the principal employer for not ensuring compliance with the Minimum Wage Act.


Related news: EC begins delimitation in Assam

Source: IE

 Context: The Election Commission of India (EC) has begun the process of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in Assam, based on the 2001 Census data.


Legal/constitutional provisions:

●        Article 82: Following each census, the allocation of Lok Sabha seats to the states, as well as the division of each state into territorial constituencies, shall be readjusted by such authority as Parliament may by law determine.

●        Section 8A of the Representation of the People Act, 1950: It allows for delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur or Nagaland.

●        Article 170 (Composition of the Legislative Assemblies): Census figures (2001) shall be used for the purpose of readjustment of constituencies in the State.

●        Reservation of seats for the SCs/STs will be provided as per Articles 330 (Lok Sabha) and 332 (State Assemblies) of the Constitution.


Delimitation Commission:

●        Delimitation is the responsibility of a high-level body known as the Delimitation Commission or a Boundary Commission, whose orders have the force of law and cannot be challenged in court.

●        Article 82 of the Indian Constitution provides for the establishment of such a commission through a Parliamentary act.

●        The orders will come into effect on a date to be determined by India’s President.


Need of delimitation in Assam:

●        Assam currently has 14 Lok Sabha and 126 Assembly constituencies.

●        The last delimitation of constituencies in Assam was done in 1976 on the basis of the 1971 Census.

●        In 1971, Assam’s population was 1.46 crore, which increased to 2.66 crore (2001) and to 3.12 crore (2011).



●        Why is the delimitation exercise being done on the basis of the 2001 Census, and not the 2011 Census?

●        Several pressure groups have urged to stop the delimitation till the NRC is final.

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