News Polity & Governance

WHAT CONNECTS NPR, NRIC AND CENSUS?

Written by Talent KAS

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Indian Constitution, Governance [Paper-I]: Indian Constitution and its salient features, Public Policy and Governance

Context

  • West Bengal and Kerala suspended work related to the preparation and update of the National Population Register in their respective States.
  • The NPR, a register of residents of the country with demographic and biometric details, was supposed to be prepared between April 2020 and September 2020 ahead of the Census slated for 2021.

What is National Population Register (NPR)?

  • It is a database containing a list of all usual residents of the country.
  • Its objective is to have a comprehensive identity database of people residing in the country.
  • It is generated through house-to-house enumeration during the “house-listing” phase of the census, which is held once in 10 years.
  • A usual resident for the purposes of NPR is a person who has resided in a place for six months or more, and intends to reside there for another six months or more.

What is the legal basis for the NPR?

  • While the census is legally backed by the Census Act, 1948, the NPR is a mechanism outlined in a set of rules framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • NPR has its base in the rules framed by the Central Government under the Citizenship Act, 1955 in 2003 called the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • Incidentally, these are the same rules which give legal framework for National Register of Indian Citizens as well.

Who prepares the NPR?

  • The preparation of the NPR is carried out under the aegis of the Central Government.
  • The data for NPR was first collected in 2010 alongwith the houselisting phase of Census of India, 2011.
  • On July 31, 2019, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued the gazette notication for starting the information collection for NPR throughout the country (except Assam), between April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020.
  • The Registrar General, India acts as the National Registration Authority for NPR and will function as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration.

Difference between NPR & Census

  • The census involves a detailed questionnaire aimed at eliciting the particulars of every person, including age, sex, marital status, children, occupation, birthplace, mother tongue, religion, disability and whether they belonged to any Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.
  • Census data is based on self-declaration made by the persons without verification.
  • On the other hand, the NPR collects basic demographic data and biometric particulars.
  • Census of India covers the entire population in the country. According to recent gazette notification, NPR will cover entire population in the country except in the state of Assam.
  • NPR is carried out as per the 2003 Citizenship Rules. Under these Rules, it is compulsory for a person to share the data for preparation of NPR.
  • Therefore, these Rules have a coercive element, as they penalize non-cooperating persons with fines and penalties.

What is National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC)?

  • NPR is a set of all usual residents of India. From that register, government proposes to create a database of “citizens of India”.
  • It means that the “National Register of Indian Citizens” (NRIC) is a sub-set of the NPR.
  • The NRIC will be prepared at the local, sub-district, district and State levels after verifying the citizenship status of the residents.
  • The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 spells out the rules for operationalising the idea of registering all citizens and issuing national identity cards to them.
  • As per the Rules, the particulars of every family and individual found in the Population Register shall be verified and scrutinized by the Local Registrar.
  • In the process, details of those “whose citizenship is doubtful” will be entered with a comment suggesting further inquiry.

What are the documents that would help establish citizenship?

  • The government is yet to notify a date for generation of the NRIC.
  • It has not yet prescribed rules for the sort of documentary proof that would be required to prove citizenship.
  • According to government, any document that shows date of birth or place of birth, or both, will be sufficient.
  • Those unable to produce documents may produce witnesses or other proof supported by members of the community.

Can States refuse cooperation with the NPR process?

  • House-to-house enumeration is a part of the Census operation. So, it is unlikely that the NPR process can go ahead without State governments agreeing to deploy their staff for the purpose.
  • While the Centre is in charge of the census, the State governments are expected to provide staff whenever required.
  • According to Section 4A of the Census Act, inserted through a 1994 amendment, “Every local authority in a State shall, when so directed by a written order by the Central Government or by an authority appointed by that Government in this behalf, make available to any Director of Census Operations such staff as may be necessary for the performance of any duties in connection with the taking of census.”
  • In any case, it is compulsory on the part of every citizen to assist in the preparation of the National Register of Citizens.
  • However, in practical terms, it may not be possible for the process to be undertaken without the State government’s cooperation at the local level.

What is the relationship between the NRIC and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act?

  • There is no direct link between the NRIC and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
  • However, remarks by the Union Home Minister that the CAA would be followed by the NRC has given rise to fears that when people are excluded from the final citizenship register, the CAA may help non-Muslims take the CAA route to apply for citizenship, and leave Muslims with no option.

[Source: The Hindu]

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