The Lok Sabha on August 1 passed the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023 that paves the way for digital birth certificates which will be a single document to be used for admission to educational institutions, applications for driving licences, government jobs, passports or Aadhaar, voter enrolment, and registration of marriage, among others.
This will “avoid the need for a multiplicity of documents to prove date and place of birth in the country,” the statement said.
All States consented
Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said that all States had consented to the provisions of the legislation that was also made available for consultation.
Mr. Rai said the centralised database is to ensure service delivery to people.
As reported first by The Hindu, the database will also update the National Population Register, ration cards and property registration.
NPR, first collected data in 2010 and updated in 2015 through door-to-door enumeration. It already has a database of 119 crore residents. NPR is the first step to the creation of National Register of Citizens (NPR), per Citizenship Act.
Violates right to privacy
Opposing the bill, AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi said in the Lok Sabha that the bill is “backdoor NRC.”
He said the bill violates right to privacy of citizens and the Government does not believe in transparency. “When we asedk for data on poverty, death during COVID-19, government says ‘No Data Available’, but it wants to amass personal data of all citizens,” he said.
The Hyderabad member of parliament added, “it will create infrastructure for mass surveillance, will lead to profiling, disenfranchisement, voter suppression and discrimination. The bill is anti-poor...only 54% people in rural areas have birth certificates.”
The bill was passed amid vociferous protests by the opposition on the ethnic violence in Manipur and demands for a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament.
Mr. Rai said the Act has not been amended so far since its inception in 1969 and in order to keep pace with societal change and technological advancements during the period of its operation and to make it more citizen friendly, there is a need to amend the Act.