National Register of Citizens of India

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The logo used by NRC, Assam

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) [ हिन्दी : राष्ट्रीय नागरिक पंजिका ] is a register containing names of all genuine Indian citizens residing in Assam. The register was first prepared after the 1951,[1][2] Census of India.[3]

The NRC is now being updated in Assam to include the names of those persons (or their descendants) who appear in the NRC, 1951, or in any of the Electoral Rolls[4] up to the midnight of 24 March 1971[5] or in any one of the other admissible documents issued up to mid-night of 24 March 1971, which would prove their presence in Assam or in any part of India on or before 24 March 1971. The update process of NRC started in the year 2013 under the strict monitoring of Supreme Court of India. On the midnight of 31 December 2017, Part Draft NRC was released and subsequently on 30 July 2018, the Complete Draft NRC was released.[6][7]

Purpose of NRC[edit]

The purpose of NRC update is to identify illegal migrants residing in North eastern state who entered Indian territories after midnight on 24 March 1971 and to determine the citizenship of the applicants who have applied for inclusion of their names in the updated NRC.[8]


In the 19th & 20th century, Colonial Assam (1826–1947) witnessed migration from various provinces of British India especially after the Yandabo treaty (signed on 24 February 1826). The liberal attitude of the Colonial authorities further encouraged the continuous arrival of peasants from Bengal to Assam in search of fertile lands.[9] As early as 1931, C.S. Mullan, the Census Superintendent in his census report even stated:

“Probably the most important event in the province during the last 25 years- an event, moreover, which seems likely to alter permanently the whole feature of Assam and to destroy the whole structure of Assamese culture and civilization has been the invasion of a vast horde of land-hungry immigrant” [10] (Politics of Migration by Dr.Manju Singh, Anita Publications, Jaipur, 1990, Page 59)

Post partition too, the matter of influx didn’t die down. Excerpts from White Paper on Foreigners' Issue published by the Home & Political Department, Government of Assam on October 20, 2012 – Chapter 1, Historical Perspective, section 1.2 reads thus – “Following Partition and communal riots in the subcontinent, Assam initially saw an influx of refugees and other migrants from East Pakistan. The number of such migrants other than refugees was initially reported by the State Government to be between 1,50,000 and 2,00,000 but later estimated to be around 5,00,000.”[11]

Considering the seriousness of the matter concerning the persistent influx of illegal migrants, the Government of India went on to formulate the Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950. This act which came into effect from 1 March 1950 mandated expulsion of illegal immigrants from the state of Assam.[12] To identify illegal immigrants, the National Register of Citizens was prepared for the first time in Assam during the conduct of 1951 Census.[13] It was carried out under a directive of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) by recording particulars of every single person enumerated during that Census. However, this measure against illegal migrants too suffered a major setback due to the fact that only from October 1952 onwards the regulations of passport and visa became operational between India and Pakistan. Further, “the definition of a foreigner to cover a Pakistan national was only clearly spelt out with the amendment of the Foreigners Act 1946 in 1957”.[9]

Meanwhile the issue of illegal infiltration was becoming formidable in the state of Assam. The Registrar General of Census in his report on 1961 Census assessed 220691 infiltrants to have entered Assam.[14]

In 1965 the government of India collaborated with the government of Assam to expedite completion of the National Register of Citizens and to issue National Identity Cards on the basis of this register to Indian citizens in order to aid identification of illegal immigrants. But in 1966 the Central Government dropped the proposal to issue identity cards in consultation with the Government of Assam, having found the project impracticable.

Between 1948 and 1971, there were large scale migrations from Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) to Assam.[15] Given this continuing influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam, student leaders in 1979 came out in fierce protest demanding detention, disenfranchisement and deportation of illegal immigrants from Assam.[16] The historic movement which came to be known as Assam Agitation or Assam Movement was initiated by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) and lasted a span of 6 years.[17] Reportedly considered by various intellectual and media forums as one of the largest mass movement led by students’ union, the six-year-long agitation left behind thousands of bleeding hearts, empty wombs, and bloodstained fields. The movement, however, culminated in the signing of the landmark Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) - the Assam Accord. It was signed by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), Central and State Governments on August 15, 1985,[18] at the behest of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in New Delhi.

The Accord ended the agitation[19] and it brought along a number of clauses that were to be implemented to curb the illegal immigration issue. As per the Assam Accord, 1 January 1966 was determined to be the precise date based on which the detention and deletion of illegal immigrants from Assam will take place. It allowed citizenship for all persons coming to Assam from “Specified Territory” before the cut-off date. It further specifies that all persons who came to Assam prior to 1 January 1966 (inclusive) and up to 24 March 1971 (midnight) shall be detected in accordance with the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1939. Name of foreigners so detected will be deleted from the Electoral Rolls in force. Such persons will be required to register themselves before the Registration Officers of the respective districts in accordance with the provisions of the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939 and the Registration of Foreigners Rules, 1939. Foreigners who came to Assam on or after 25 March 1971 shall continue to be detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with law.[20]

However, even after the Accord was put in place and signed, the process of detecting and expelling immigrants never really officially took place. In fact, the only attempt at detecting foreigners by updating the National Register in Assam was through a Pilot Project which was started in 2 circles (referred to as Tehsil in some states), one in Kamrup district and another in Barpeta district in the year 2010, which ended abruptly within 4 weeks amidst a huge law and order problem involving a mob attack on the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Barpeta that resulted in police firing killing 4 persons.[21] Considering the volatile nature of the issue, for a long time particularly after the experience of the pilot project, NRC update was considered almost an impossible task.

But ultimately it was taken up at the behest of the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order following writ petitions by Assam Public Works.[22] Hon’ble Supreme Court in 2013, headed by the Bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohintan Fali Nariman, directed the Union Government and the State Government to complete the update of NRC, to be implemented in adherence to Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship Rules, 2003,[23] in all parts of Assam with the objective to rule out immigrants from the state. Pursuant to the directive of the Hon’ble Court, the Registrar General of India via its notification Number S.O. 3591 E dated December 6, 2013 notified commencing of NRC.[24] That was the beginning of the gargantuan task identification of illegal migrants and the Supreme Court thereupon took up the task of monitoring the entire process of NRC Update in Assam.

The Honourable Supreme Court bench overlooking the NRC Update process in Assam constitutes of Honourable Justices Shri Ranjan Gogoi and Shri Rohinton Fali Nariman.


The NRC is updated as per the provisions The Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 (As amended by 1. G. S. R. 803(E), dated 9 November 2009 (with effect from 9/11/2009.), Ministry of Home Affairs (Office of Registrar General, India), Order No. S.O. 596(E), dated 15 March 2010, published in the Gazette of India, Extra, Part II. No. 504 S.3(ii), dated 16 March 2010 p. 1.). As per the two statutes, the eligibility status would be ascertained based on the NRC, 1951, Electoral Rolls up to 1971 and in their absence the admissible documents up to 24 March (midnight) 1971.

Policy decisions, guidelines and funds for NRC updates are provided by the Central Government of India, but its implementation is done through the State Government machinery under the Registrar General of India[6] who functions as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration under Rule 15 of Citizenship Rules, 2003 as amended in 2009 and 2010.

The modalities for NRC updates have been developed jointly by the Government of Assam and the Government of India in adherence to these statutes.

Eligibility Criteria[edit]

  • Persons whose names appear in NRC, 1951.
  • Persons whose names appear in any of the Electoral Rolls up to 24 March (midnight), 1971.
  • Descendants of the above persons.
  • Persons who came to Assam on or after 1 January 1966 but before 25 March 1971 and registered themselves in accordance with the rules made by the Central Government with the Foreigners Registration Regional Officer (FRRO) and who have not been declared as illegal migrants or foreigners by the competent authority.
  • People who are original inhabitants of Assam and their children and descendants who are citizens of India provided their citizenship is ascertained beyond a reasonable doubt by the registering authority.
  • ‘D’ voters can apply for inclusion of their names in the updated NRC. However, their names will be finally included only when the appropriate Foreigner Tribunal declares them as non-foreigners.
  • Persons who can provide any one of the documents issued up to midnight of 24 March 1971 as mentioned in the list of documents admissible for citizenship.
  • All Indian Citizens including their children and descendants who have moved to Assam post 24 March 1971 would be eligible for inclusion in the updated NRC on adducing satisfactory proof of residence in any part of the country (outside Assam) as on 24 March 1971.
  • All members of the Tea Tribes shall be covered under ‘Original inhabitants of Assam’ category provided for under Clause 3(3) of the Schedule of The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • All such original inhabitants shall be included on the basis of proof to the satisfaction of the Registering Authority. On the establishment of the citizenship of such persons beyond a reasonable doubt, their names shall be in the updated NRC.
  • All Indian Citizens including their children and descendants who have moved to Assam post 24 March 1971 would be eligible for inclusion in the updated NRC on adducing satisfactory proof of residence in any part of the country (outside Assam) as on 24 March 1971.
  • All the members of the Tea Tribes shall be covered under ‘Original inhabitants of Assam’ category provided for under Clause 3(3) of the Schedule of The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • All such original inhabitants shall be included on the basis of proof to the satisfaction of the Registering Authority. On the establishment of the citizenship of such persons beyond a reasonable doubt, their names shall be in the updated NRC.

Beginning of the Update Process[edit]

Updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state of Assam is the most extensive citizen engaging exercise. A highly structured plan was put in place to carry out the process of NRC update.

Setting up of a Technical Mechanism[edit]

Development of over 20 large custom software applications, over 2500 digitization hubs and a state of art Data Centre along with extensive manpower involvement (over 30,000 government officers and 10,000 contractual/ outsourced staff) was set up to take on the process of NRC update.

1 Digitized Legacy Data Development (DLDD) 8 Correction of e-Form 1 data (e-Form 2X)
2 Offline Application Form Receipt (e-Form 1) 9 Verification Teams' Report Generation
3 Online Application Form Receipt 10 Computerized Family Tree-Manual Family Tree Match (e-Form 3)
4 Offline-Online Application Form Receipt 11 Combined Verification Report (CVR) generation (e-Form 4)
5 Document Segregation and Metadata Entering (DOCSMEN) 12 Recommendation of Circle/Tehsil Officer on claim of applicants
6 Digitization of Field Verification Result (e-Form 2 FVR) 13 Approval of Deputy Commissioner/District Collector/ District Magistrate on claim of applicants
7 Map based display of performances at district/circle/NSK/village level 14 Software for transliteration of data digitized in English to Bengali and Assamese

Setting up of NRC Seva Kendras (NSK)[edit]

In order to aid and assist the public in enrolling themselves in the NRC update process ICT (Information Communication Technology) enabled Help Desks named as NRC Seva Kendras (NSKs) were set up across the state. NRC Seva Kendras (NSK) were set up in each district of Assam; each NSK covering an approximate of 2,500 households. NSK acts as epicentre for all the NRC activities starting from assisting the public in searching the Legacy Data, distribution of Application Form, receipt of Application Form, carrying out all the data entry work, displaying of Draft NRC and so on. Each NSK is equipped with sophisticated software for Legacy Data Search in three languages, namely English, Assamese and Bengali & besides that, adequate hardware such as computers, scanners, & furniture are made available for public convenience.

Some of the rules pertaining to NSKs are such - The Application Form can be submitted only in the designated NSK that covers applicant’s present address. The designated NSK shall receive Application Form only from the villages/wards earmarked under it. Officials of the designated NSK will visit the address given under "Present Address" to conduct verification of applications received from areas covered under that particular NSK only.


The mechanism adopted to update the NRC 1951 has been developed from scratch owing to the fact that there is no precedence of such a mammoth task ever undertaken in India or elsewhere that involved identification of genuine citizens and detection of illegal immigrants using technology since it involved data of over 3 crore people and over 6.6 crore documents. The guidelines under which NRC Update has been taken up is as follows –

The process of NRC Update is divided into the following phases:

- Publication of Legacy Data

- Distribution & Receipt of Application Form

- Verification Process

- Publication of Part Draft NRC

- Publication of Complete Draft NRC

- Receipt and disposal of Claims and Objection

- Publication of Final NRC

Publication of Legacy Data[edit]

To claim eligibility for inclusion in NRC the applicants had to prove their residence in Assam (or in any part of the country) up to 24 March 1971. As per statutory requirement, the NRC authorities had to publish copies of NRC 1951 and Electoral Rolls of all years up to 24 March 1971 (collectively named as Legacy Data). Easy accessibility of these documents was the key to ensure effective public engagement in the process. About 6.26 lakh pages of such old documents were available across the state, but most of those were in poor condition as can be seen in the image of Original NRC 1951. It would not have been possible for the public to search for their names in the heaps of dilapidated documents. To address this concern, NRC authority decided to digitize and develop the legacy data and make it available in the easily searchable format. 2.01 crore records were digitized and were assigned a Unique “Legacy Data Code” from 6.26 lakh pages of such legacy documents. All these pages were then converted into images through photographic scanning and assigned unique image IDs and linked to the 2.01 crore records for preserving the database, establishing the unique identity of records and producing true copies of Legacy Data for publication. The data was transliterated to make it search enabled in Assamese, English and Bengali. Out of the total 8 crore words found in the Legacy Database, an “Assam Data Dictionary” was prepared with 24 lakhs unique words. 25 GB of SQL database and 240 GB image files were installed in a short span of 10 days in 5000 laptops spread over 2500 NRC Seva Kendras (NSKs) specially set up for free search and issue of Legacy Data. Legacy database was also made available on the public domain through NRC Website. Issue of 77 lakh Legacy Data Codes in NSKs and 68 lakh through the web in a period of 6 months proved to be the game-changer in NRC update. Out of 68.23 lakh Application Forms received from the public, 95% applicants submitted Legacy Data as supporting document to prove their claim for inclusion in NRC. This indicates to the indispensability of Legacy Data development exercise which set the ball rolling for NRC update in Assam

Two set of documents had to be furnished by the applicants for inclusion in the updated NRC. They are -

List A Documents[edit]

For inclusion of names of any person in updated NRC, the applicants must produce any one of the following List A documents issued before 24 March (midnight), 1971 where the name of self or ancestor appears (to prove residence in Assam up to 24 March (midnight), 1971):

·        1951 NRC

·        Electoral Roll(s) up to 24 March (midnight), 1971

·        Land & Tenancy Records

·        Citizenship Certificate

·        Permanent Residential Certificate

·        Refugee Registration Certificate

·        Passport

·        LIC

·        Any Govt. issued License/Certificate

·        Govt. Service/ Employment Certificate

·        Bank/Post Office Accounts

·        Birth Certificate

·        Board/University Educational Certificate

·        Court Records/Processes

Further, the following two documents are also accepted as supporting documents if accompanied by any one of the documents listed above:

·        Circle Officer/GP Secretary Certificate in respect of married women migrating after marriage (can be of any year before or after 24 March (midnight), 1971).

·        Ration Card issued up to the midnight of 24 March 1971 can be adduced as supporting documents.

List B Documents[edit]

If any of the documents of List A is not of the applicant himself/herself but that of an ancestor, namely, father or mother or grandfather or grandmother or great grandfather or great grandmother (and so on) the applicant then have to submit List B documents to establish relationship with such ancestor, i.e., father or mother or grandfather or grandmother or great grandfather or great grandmother etc. whose name appears in List A. Such documents shall have to be legally acceptable document which clearly proves such relationship. The applicants must produce any one of the following List B to establish the linkage:

.        Birth Certificate

.        Land document

.        Board/University Certificate

.        Bank/LIC/Post Office records

.        Circle Officer/GP Secretary Certificate in case of married women

.       Electoral Roll

.        Ration Card

.        Any other legally acceptable document

Distribution and Receipt of Application Process[edit]

The application process was facilitated to the public in both online and offline modes. People opting for the offline mode had to visit their nearest NSK for filling up and submission of their application forms. The NSKs received applications from 9 AM till 6 PM.

People opting for online mode had the option of submitting the form via their smart phones and tablet devices as well, in addition to accessing the form via a desktop/Laptop. The online form was designed to collect data for the entire family in average 24 fields and 2-3 pages of scanned documents and one photograph for each person. It may be mentioned here that average family size for Assam is 5 members per family. Application Forms were distributed house to house by government functionaries in the entire state and could be collected by the applicants from the NRC Seva Kendra’s (NSKs) in case it was lost or damaged. Facility for online download from the NRC website was also made available. One Application Form per household was distributed, which had the provision to provide details of up to six (6) members. For families with more than 6 members, additional forms were issued. One could also take a Xerox copy of the form themselves. Application forms were made available in Assamese, English, Bengali and Bodo languages.

The guidelines of form fill up were made available in the form of instruction sheets distributed during the Community Awareness Meetings. That apart video tutorials for each side of the Application Form, Side A, B, C and D were developed and made available online as well as distributed in the form of CDs in each district at the capacity building meetings. Applicants could also call NRC toll-free helpline number 15107 (from Assam) and 18003453762 (from outside Assam) or visit their designated NSKs for any assistance required in the filling up the Application Form.

Verification Process[edit]

The sole objective of the verification process is to ensure that no ineligible person gets entry into the updated NRC and that no genuine person is left out form the NRC. The verification process consists of the following steps:

Office Verification[edit]

The process of office verification focuses on establishing the authenticity of the documents submitted by validating the same with issuing authority. As per Citizenship Rules, verification is a multistage process involving house to house verification and document verification that involves comparing documents submitted (to trace particulars or linkage up to the aforementioned cut-off date) with the backend available with issuing authorities of such documents. Each of 6.6 crore documents such as Electoral rolls, land records, birth certificates, university certificates, bank documents, post office documents, passports etc. belonging to about 3344 different categories of issuing offices,  in addition to over 71,710 schools, had to be sent to its issuing offices to check authenticity of such documents.

DOCSMEN - Document Segregation and Meta-Data Entry[edit]

The only way of accomplishing the verification task was to set up a specialized mechanism equipped with the best of IT-based work flow management system to send the documents to the respective backend authorities (offices from where the document was issued) through the development of specialized and sophisticated software named as “DOCSMEN – Document Segregation and Meta-Data Entry”. The DOCSMEN software is used for feeding information about documents such as destination, document code, metadata and then slicing as per document details for electronic sending to various destinations inside and outside Assam. It may be added that during Application receipt, the same Application Form and its supporting documents were scanned in a single PDF and the PDF was then sliced in Application Forms, supporting documents based on their page numbers. This software is installed in over 6000 standalone laptops deployed in NSKs and circles and the data is then uploaded into a central database for further processing. A special utility is used at central Data Centre for generation of documents in lots (a set of 50 documents) of the same category from same issuing authority but received from varied sources/across the state. This enables systematic sending of documents to issuing offices for backend checking. For example, for the State Board of Education, any lot would contain only the document of a particular year and examination centre irrespective of the location where such documents were submitted. As such, each of the 6.65 crore documents is packed into lots of 79534 issuing authorities for sending electronically to such issuing authority. This bespoke software handled robust data and enabled processing of crores of documents in a systematic format that enabled completion of verification of 4.52 crores of documents in a span of 8 months. Without a state of the art Document Management System, it would have taken years to achieve such kind of progress.

Field Verification[edit]

The process of field verification through the house to house visit to over 68 lakh applicants was also made systematic through the computerized generation of pre-filled Verification Teams Report (VTR). VTR is a single page document generated using digitized Application Form data for each applicant that is to be verified by the verification team. VTR serves two purposes – first by making the job of Verification Teams easy by providing prepopulated data related to applicants systematically in one page where the Teams  have to record the result only in “Yes”/ “No” format. Additionally, the VTR also indicated the fields in which the applicants have not provided full detail in their Forms so that the Verifying Officers can complete those during field verification. The second purpose served by VTRs is to allow quality checking of the first round of application form data digitization done by operators. As VTRs are taken to field for the recording of results, the VTs get a chance to correct any digitization error and take the second opinion on the spelling of names, surnames etc., directly from the applicants.

The process of field verification focuses on establishing if the document submitted actually relates to the applicant/ member or not. Field verification further establishes an identity of the applicant/ member and authenticates his/ her linkage claims.

Family Tree Verification[edit]

Family Tree Verification technique was used to find out if the Legacy Data published by NRC authority had been misused by an imposter. As the Legacy Data had been digitized and each record assigned a unique number, it was possible to find out a list of users of one particular Legacy Data and then cross check this computer-generated list with actual family members declared beforehand in a form named “Manual Family Tree”. Imposters often “adopt” a person in whose name legacy document is available and then get linkage documents prepared accordingly to establish this relationship. Some of the documents used by imposters are not even forged, such as electoral rolls, which are issued without checking the authenticity of particulars. For this reason, it is found that the document verification process itself is not a foolproof process in finding imposters. As such this technique of comparing Computerized Family Trees (CFTs) with Manual Family Trees (MFTs) became more accurate method to determine the authenticity of claims of the NRC applicants.

Verification of Family Tree commenced on 15 February 2018 in Assam. Applicants whose family tree details mismatched with other members of the family were called for family tree verification. Mismatches arising due to giving nicknames in family tree details, name/ surname changes due to marriage, missing out names of all family members due to lack of knowledge or ignorance, etc., were corrected during the proceedings. Applicants received Letter of Information (LOI) delivered at their households by NRC field level functionaries. Details of date, time and venue were mentioned in the LOI.

Final eligibility for inclusion of names was determined only if, the results of all the three verification process - field verification, office verification and Family Tree Matching were found positive.

Publication of Part Draft NRC[edit]

The first part of draft NRC, known as the Part Draft NRC published on expiry of midnight of 31 December 2017 by the Office of the State Coordinator of National Registrar (Assam) in all the villages/wards where the Application Forms were issued & received. The total number of people included in the Part Draft NRC was 1,90,10,932 members out of 3.29 crore applicants.

Publication Complete Draft NRC[edit]

The complete draft NRC was published on 30 July 2018 Office of the State Coordinator of National Registrar (Assam) in all the villages/wards in all the villages/wards where the Application Forms were issued & received and also made available on the website

The total number of persons included in the Complete Draft NRC is 2,89,83,677 leaving a total of 40,70,707 as ineligible for inclusion.

Receipt and disposal of Claims and Objections[edit]

The persons whose names do not appear in the Draft NRC, may file claim application within a stipulated period at the NSK where the Application Form was submitted.

A person may also have an objection against entry of any name in the draft NRC. The objections to entry of names of persons in the draft updated NRC can be filed before the LRCR.

Any person can also apply for correction of his name or any other entry in his respect as appearing in the Draft updated NRC, he/ she can file correction application within a stipulated period before the LRCR.


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