The Cabinet approved the Census and National Population Register on December 24, 2019. Home Minister Amit Shah said that the NPR has got nothing to do with the National Register of Citizens. However, protests have erupted across the country against the proposed country-wide NRC and two States - West Bengal and Kerala - have decided to pause all NPR-related work.
Here is a fact check on the NPR-NRC link.
Claim: NPR is not the basis of NRC
* NPR (National Population Register) is indeed the basis for NRC (National Register of Citizens) or NRIC (National Register of Indian Citizens), as Section 14A of the Citizenship Act empowers the government to compulsorily register every citizen of India and issue an identity card and to maintain a ‘National Register of Indian Citizens”. The citizenship register is generated out of the NPR database
* The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Card) Rules, 2003, introduced the term ‘Population Register’ and said particulars collected in the population register shall be verified and scrutinised for the purpose of preparation and inclusion in the citizenship register. In other words, without NPR there can be no NRIC.
Claim: NPR will not be followed by NRC
* It is possible for the government not to establish a citizenship register. The earlier NPR exercise done during the UPA regime did not result in the creation of a citizenship database.
* The Act says the government MAY maintain a national register of Indian citizens. It is possible to argue that preparing a citizenship register out of NPR data is not mandatory.
* However, the 2003 Rules mandate the Registrar General of India, who is also the Registrar General of Citizenship Registration, SHALL establish and maintain the national citizenship register. The Centre is also mandated by the rules to carry out a house-to-house enumeration and collection of particulars related to every individual and family, including citizenship status.
Claim: No proof of details or biometrics will be collected during NPR
Fact: In the initial phase, details may be accepted based on self-declaration. However, if a citizenship register is to be generated, scrutiny of documentary proof may become necessary. Biometrics were collected during last NPR for some, and biometrics collected for Aadhaar were used for others. As Aadhaar coverage saturation is close to 98%, it is possible to dispense with collection of biometrics during NPR for most residents
Claim: NPR is being updated for efficient delivery of welfare and social benefits under government schemes
Fact: This was the original objective of NPR, but with Aadhaar being introduced and backed by an Act, which mandates linking of subsidies and welfare schemes to possessing an Aadhaar number, it may not be correct to argue that NPR is needed for efficient delivery of benefits any more.