NRC reverification 

#GS2 #Governance

  • Newly-elected Chief Minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma said his government will be approaching the Supreme Court again for reverification of the National Citizenship Register (NRC) — up to 20% of entries in areas bordering Bangladesh and 10% in the interior areas of Assam.

What is NRC?

  • NRC is an official record of those who are legal Indian citizens. 
  • It includes demographic information about all those individuals who qualify as citizens of India as per the Citizenship Act, 1955. 
  • The register was first prepared after the 1951 Census of India and since then it has not been updated until recently.

Who is a citizen of India?

As per the Citizenship Act, 1955, every person born in India:

(a) on or after the 26th day of January 1950, but before the 1st day of July 1987;

(b) on or after the 1st day of July 1987, but before the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003 and either of whose parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth;

(c) on or after the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, where-

  • both of his parents are citizens of India; or
  • one of whose parents is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of his birth, shall be a citizen of India by birth.

Why was NRC updated for Assam?

  • This has been a state-specific exercise to keep its ethnic uniqueness unaltered. In 2013, Assam Public Works and Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha & Ors filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court demanding the deletion of illegal migrants' names from voter lists in Assam.
  • People waiting to check their names in the final NRC list in Assam. (Photo: Reuters)
  • In 2014, the SC ordered the updation of the NRC, in accordance with the Citizenship Act, 1955 and Citizenship Rules, 2003 in all parts of Assam. 
  • The process officially started in 2015 and the updated final NRC was released on August 31, with over 1.9 million applicants failing to make it to the NRC list.
  • After protests of the exclusion of many Hindus from the list, the home ministry declared that the NRC will be carried out again in Assam.

Will there be a nationwide NRC?

  • Ever since the implementation of the NRC in Assam, there has been a growing demand for its nationwide implementation. 
  • Now, many top BJP leaders including Home Minister Amit Shah have proposed that the NRC in Assam be implemented across India.
  • It effectively suggests to bring in a legislation that will enable the government to identify infiltrators who have been living in India illegally, detain them and deport them to where they came from.

Is a nationwide NRC different from the Assam one?

  • So far, the government has not officially called for the updation of the NRC for all of India, hence how this process will be carried is not clear.
  • While in Assam, citizens were asked to submit the proof of citizenship themselves to NRC Seva Kendras set across the state, it is not sure how the same model will be implemented across the entire country.
  • Also, the Assam NRC was mandated through a special exception for the state in the Citizenship Act, 2003 and the process was overseen by the Supreme Court. 
  • At present, no such guidelines exist for a countrywide updation of the list. If a nationwide NRC is carried out, it will be under the direction of the Union government.
  • However, the processes similar to the NRC have begun in many states such as the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants in Nagaland as well as the Centre announced National Population Register (NPR) which will contain demographic as well biometric information of citizens.

How is NRC related to CAA?

  • The proposed nationwide NRC, which till now remains just a proposal, if implemented will target illegal immigrants in India.
  • But Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhist, Jains and Parsis coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh won't be affected, if they claim they have arrived in India after fleeing religious persecution.
  • This essentially means if a nationwide NRC comes in as proposed, any illegal immigrant from nations other than Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, will be affected.
  • Moreover, many also fear that Indian Muslims may be deemed illegal immigrants if they are unable to furnish adequate proof of citizenship as they are not included in the Citizenship Amendment Act.
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