The Centre informed the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that “till now”, the government had not taken any decision to prepare the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) at the national level.
Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai stated this in a written reply to Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) member Abdul Wahab, who asked whether the government had any plan to implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout the country in toto .
From December 2019-March 2020, as many as 69 persons were killed in various incidents in wake of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)-National Population Register (NPR)-National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The Minister had stated the same position in reply to a question on the nationwide NRC by the Communist Party of India’s Binoy Viswam on March 4, 2020 and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Tiruchi Siva on March 18, 2020.
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However, in the same month in 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that the NRC was a “necessary exercise for any sovereign country for mere identification of citizens from non-citizens”.
In 2018, before the passage of the CAA, the then minister of State (MoS) for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir informed the Rajya Sabha that “as per the provisions contained in Rule 3 of the Citizenship Rules 2003 framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955, the Registrar General of Citizen Registration shall establish and maintain the National Register of Indian Citizens and prepare the Population Register”.
On November 16, 2016 former MoS Home Kiren Rijiju stated: “The Government has approved the preparation of Population Register comprising details of usual residents in the country. The preparation of Population Register is a part of preparation of NRIC under provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 read with the Citizenship Rules (2003).”
The NPR’s link with the NRC and yet to be implemented CAA, 2019 has been opposed by many States and civil society groups.
Though the government is now denying that the NRC is on the cards, the Citizenship Rules framed in the year 2003 say that NPR is the first step towards compilation of NRC. NPR was first collected in 2010 and then updated in 2015; it already has a database of 119 crore residents. The rules have not been amended or scrapped.
The CAA passed by the Parliament on December 11, 2019 allows citizenship on basis of religion to six undocumented communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. There are apprehensions and fear that the CAA, followed by a countrywide NRC, will benefit non-Muslims excluded from the proposed citizens’ register, while excluded Muslims will have to prove their citizenship.
An NRC has been compiled in the State of Assam on the directions of the Supreme Court and more than 19 lakh of the 3.29 crore applicants in Assam were left out of the final register.