Topic: General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
National Population Register (NPR)
Context: Bihar Assembly passed a unanimous resolution stating that there is no need for a National Register of Citizens in the State and that the implementation of the NPR would be done strictly according to the 2010 format.
What is NPR?
- NPR is a register of usual residents of the country. It includes both Indian citizens as well as a foreign citizen.
- According to the Citizenship Rules, 2003, a usual resident is a person who has resided (or intends to reside) in a local area for the past 6 months
- The entire NPR exercise will be conducted by the Office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Union Home Ministry.
- The first NPR was prepared in 2010 and updation of this data was done (except in Assam and Meghalaya) during 2015 by conducting door to door survey.
- The present NPR has a database of 119 crore residents.
- The NPR 2020 enumeration exercise will be undertaken during April–September 2020
How is the NPR linked to the National Register of Citizens?
- NPR is considered to be the mother database for “identity purposes”.
- The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 mandates that particulars of “every family and individual” in the NPR would be used for verification in the National Register of Citizens (NRC)
- The Local Registrar is empowered, during verification, to mark out the particulars of individuals whose citizenship is doubtful, with “appropriate remarks” for further enquiry.
What happens if individual citizenship is marked doubtful?
- The individual concerned has to then appear before the Sub-district or Taluk Registrar of Citizen Registration to prove s/he is a citizen before a formal decision is taken to include or to exclude their particulars in NRC
- The onus to prove s/he is a citizen is entirely on the individual concerned.
- Thus, the data collected through NPR becomes the crux for determining the citizenship of a person.
What is the NPR format of 2010?
- Fifteen identity particulars of the individual members of the household are sought in the 2010 format.
- These include name, relationship to the head of the household, sex, date of birth, marital status, educational qualification, occupation/activity, names of parents, place of birth (of everybody staying in the household at the time), nationality, present address of usual residence, duration of stay at the present address and permanent residential address.
What does the updated NPR manual of 2020 say?
- Certain new information will be collected like Aadhaar, mobile, voter ID, passport and driving licence, if available with the residents on a voluntarily basis.
- New format also requires residents to disclose their mother tongue and the places & dates of birth of their parents even if they are not living in the same household at the time or not alive
What is the problem?
- Lack of Documentation: In a country where a large part of the population is underprivileged and where people have not been able to formalise their birth due to lack of access to health care, the task of disclosing the exact birth and place of birth, especially of their aged parents and orphans, would prove to be a daunting task.
- Fear of Exclusion: NPR is being viewed in fear as a facilitator for the NRC. Along with this, the passage of Citizenship (Amendment) Act,2019 has induced fears among sections of society (particularly Muslims) that inadequate documents may invite remarks by local registrar during enumeration exercise, thus stripping off their citizenship status.
- CAA, 2019 fast-tracks citizenship-by-naturalisation process of persons from six religious communities, other than Muslims, who have fled persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
- State governments are nervous that the NPR data would be used to target citizens on the basis of their identity and deprive them of their public services
What lies ahead?
- The workforce for updation of NPR 2020 has to be provided by the State governments.
- With more States objecting to the new format and its contentious clauses, the exercise may reach an impasse.
- Widespread doubts about the intentions behind the NPR may also affect the smooth conduct of the Census.
Connecting the dots
- What happens when State & Centre reach impasse (suppose in case of NPR)? Should Judiciary get involved or should mechanism like Inter-State Council be utilized?
- Cooperative Federalism
- Article 131 of Indian Constitution
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