No decision has been made on taking the National Register of Citizens across the country, the government said today, indicating it is not yet ready to break the pause in the process after the countrywide protests on the issue. “Till now, the government has not taken any decision to prepare the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) at the national level,” Union Minister Nityanand Rai informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
In November 2019, Mr Rai’s boss, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, had told parliament that the NRC process will be conducted in the entire country including in Assam. The ministry had also told parliament that the National Population Register will be updated under the Citizenship Amendment Act, along with the first phase of the Census 2021.
So far, the NRC process has been carried out only in Assam. But of the state’s 19.06 lakh people, 3.30 crore were excluded from the final list of 2019, creating a huge political row. Taken together with the Citizenship Amendment Act, it triggered protests across the country which were cut short only by the Covid outbreak. Several opposition-ruled states said they will not allow the NRC process to take place.
“In Assam NRC was conducted on instructions of Supreme Court. It is not related to CAA,” Mr Shah had told parliament at the time. He also said anyone not included in the lists can appeal before the designated Foreigners’ Tribunals within 120 days.
Mr Rai said since people excluded from the NRC in Assam have not yet exhausted all legal avenues, the question of their nationality verification does not arise at this stage.
Referring to the NPR (national Population Registry) — To note down demographic and other particulars of each family — Mr Rai said the government has decided to update it during the first phase of Census, 2021. “No document is to be collected during this exercise,” Mr Rai said.
The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.
The process was initially supposed to begin in April last year, but was postponed due to Covid.