- What is NPR?
- Legal Basis of NPR
- Difference between NPR and Census
- Connection between NPR and Aadhaar
- Can State government deny the NPR procedure initiated by Union government?
- What will happen after the NPR is compiled?
- Relationship between the NPR and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act?
What connects the NPR, NRIC and Census?
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- As protests spread all across the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 and the proposed National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC), West Bengal and Kerala suspended work related to the preparation and update of the National Population Register (NPR) in their States.
- In Bengal, civil rights activists had been protesting against the NPR alleging that it had nothing to with the Census, but allege that NPR is the first step to initiate the National Register of Citizens in Bengal.
What is NPR?
- The NPR is a database containing a list of all usual residents of India, with their demographic and biometric details. The objective of NPR is to have a comprehensive identity database of people residing in India.
- A usual resident for the purposes of NPR is a person who has resided in a place for 6 months or more, and intends to reside there for another 6 months or more.
- It is generated through house-to-house enumeration during the house-listing phase of the census, which is held once in 10 years. The next census will be done in 2021.
- NPR was supposed to be prepared between April 2020 and September 2020 ahead of the Census slated for 2021.
Legal Basis of NPR
The Citizenship Act 1955 was amended in 2004 by inserting Section 14A which provides for the following: –
- The Central Government may compulsorily register every citizen of India and issue National Identity Card.
- The Central Government may maintain a National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) or NRC and for that purpose establish a National Registration Authority.
- Registrar General of India act as the National Registration Authority and shall function as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration.
How NRC is the first step towards the National Register of Citizens (NRC)?
- After this amendment in 2004, civil rights activists, especially in Bengal, started protesting updating NPR. saying that the NPR was the first step towards the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
- Registrar General India act as the National Registration Authority and also as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration. However, the problem is that the Registrar General also functions as the Census Commissioner of India. This means the government can use the data collected for the NPR, for creating NRC/NRIC.
- In other words, the preparation of an NRC, as per 2003 Citizenship Rules, can be done only after NPR. So, NPR is a necessary pre-condition for NRC.
Difference between NPR and Census
Provision for penalty for non-compliance
- Census is an exercise carried out under the Census Act, 1948. Census data is based on self-declaration made by the persons without verification.
- NPR is carried out as per the 2003 Citizenship Rules. Under these Rules, it is compulsory for a person to share the demographic data for preparation of NPR. Therefore, these Rules have a coercive element, as they penalize non-cooperating persons with fines and penalties.
Difference in information gathering
- The census involves a detailed questionnaire of 29 items which are aimed at eliciting the particulars of every person, including age, sex, marital status, children, occupation etc. On the other hand, the NPR collects basic demographic data and biometric particulars.
- Both processes involve door-to-door enumeration but NPR differs from the Census in the sense that its objective is to have a comprehensive identity database of those residing in India. The Census does not identify individuals.
Use of data, after census and NPR is completed
- Census data are kept and maintained centrally under the Registrar General of India.
- However, once the NPR data are recorded and ready, these details would be kept and maintained in a population register at levels of village or ward, tehsil or taluk (sub-district), district and state. Together, they will constitute the National Population Register with all data at the central level.
It may be noted that both these processes are carried under the supervision of a single office: The Office of Registrar General of India and Census Commissioner.
Connection between NPR and Aadhaar
- Both the NPR and Aadhaar projects were concurrently underway. This resulted in duplication of data and wastage of resources as both involves gathering of personal particulars, including biometric data.
- Hence, it was decided that those already enrolled for Aadhaar will not give their biometric details again during NPR. At the same time, the data collected in NPR will be sent to UIDAI for de-duplication and issue of Aadhaar Number. Thus, NPR will contain three elements of data – (i) demographic data, (ii) biometric data and (iii) the Aadhaar (UID Number).
- Simply put, NPR will form the key data set for both Aadhaar and NRC.
Can State government deny the NPR procedure initiated by Union government?
- As per Section 4A of the Census Act, every local authority in a State, when so directed by Central Government, has to make available Director of Census Operations.
- Further, Rule 5 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, lays down that every official of the Central Government, State Government, local bodies or their undertakings shall assist the Registrar General of Citizen Registration or any person authorized by him in this behalf, in implementing the provisions of these rules.
- As per rules, it is compulsory on the part of every citizen to assist in the preparation of the National Register of Citizens.
What will happen after the NPR is compiled?
- Out of the NPR, the government proposes to create a database of citizens of India by creating National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC). Thus, the 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 NRC will contain the details of the persons after due verification made from the NPR.
- The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 spells out the rules for operationalizing the idea of registering all citizens and issuing national identity cards to them. As per rules, particulars of every family found in NPR will be verified by the Local Registrar.
- After this, a draft of the Local Register of Indian Citizens will be published to invite objections. Thereafter, the entries in the Local Register will be transferred to the National Registrar. Any person aggrieved by an exclusion order can appeal to the District Registrar within 30 days.
Relationship between the NPR and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act?
- There is no direct link between NPR and CAA. However, Home Minister said that the CAA would be followed by the NRC. This has given rise to fears that when people are excluded from the final citizenship register, the CAA may help non-Muslims to apply for Indian citizenship, and leave Muslims with no option.
CAA, NPR and NRC Will Play Crucial Role in Making of New India. India has to emerge as a strong modern nation. To ensure this, NPR, CAA and NRC has to be implemented based on consensus of every party affected by these exercise and not by mere legislative superpower.