CAA,NPR and NRC
#GS2 #IndianConstitution , Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies
- The Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its judgment that the Shaheen Bagh protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
- The original judgment of October 7 last year declared the demonstrations and road blockades in the Shaheen Bagh area of the national capital as “unacceptable”
- The judgment had upheld the right to peaceful protest against a law.
- The public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied, and that too indefinitely.
- Fundamental rights do not live in isolation. The right of the protester has to be balanced with the right of the commuter.
- They have to co-exist in mutual respect, the court had explained in its judgment.
- The right to assemble peacefully without arms is provided in the constitution under Article 19(1)(b).
- This article provides every citizen with the right to assemble peacefully and protest against action or inaction of the State.
- The right to peaceful protest and free speech are intrinsic to a democracy. Hence, it must be encouraged and respected.
- But there exists reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2), under certain conditions:
- sovereignty & integrity of India
- the security of the State
- friendly relations with foreign States
- public order
- decency or morality
- in relation to contempt of court
- incitement to an offence.
Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
- The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.
- The Bill amends the Act to provide that the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, will not be treated as illegal migrants.
- In order to get this benefit, they must have also been exempted from the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 by the central government.
- The 1920 Act mandates foreigners to carry passport, while the1946 Act regulates the entry and departure of foreigners in India.
- Citizenship by registration or naturalisation: The Act allows a person to apply for citizenship by registration or naturalisation if the person meets certain qualifications.
- For instance, if a person resides in India for a year and if one of his parents is a former Indian citizen, he may apply for citizenship by registration.
- To obtain citizenship by naturalisation, one of the qualifications is that the person must have resided in India or have been in the service of the central government for at least 11 years before applying for citizenship.
- The Bill creates an exception for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, with regard to this qualification. For these groups of persons, the 11 years’ requirement will be reduced to five years.
- On acquiring citizenship: (i) such persons will be deemed to be citizens of India from the date of their entry into India, and (ii) all legal proceedings against them in respect of their illegal migration or citizenship will be closed.
- Applicability of the Amended Act
- These provisions on citizenship for illegal migrants will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. These tribal areas include Karbi Anglong (in Assam), Garo Hills (in Meghalaya), Chakma District (in Mizoram), and Tripura Tribal Areas District.
- Further, it will not apply to the “Inner Line” areas notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. In these areas, visits by Indians are regulated through the Inner Line Permit.
- Currently, this permit system is applicable to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland. Manipur has also been brought under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime through a Gazette Notification on the same day the bill was passed in the parliament.
- Cancellation of registration of OCIs: The Act provides that the central government may cancel the registration of OCIs on certain grounds. These include: (i) if the OCI has registered through fraud, or (ii) if, within five years of registration, the OCI has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more, or (iii) if it becomes necessary in the interest of sovereignty and security of India.
- The Bill adds one more ground for cancelling the registration, that is if the OCI has violated the provisions of the Act or of any other law as notified by the central government. The orders for cancellation of OCI should not be passed till the OCI cardholder is given an opportunity to be heard.
National Population Register (NPR)
- The NPR is a database containing a list of all usual residents of the country.Its objective is to have a comprehensive identity database of people residing in the country.
- It is generated through house-to-house enumeration during the “house-listing” phase of the census, which is held once in 10 years.
- A usual resident for the purposes of NPR is a person who has resided in a place for six months or more, and intends to reside there for another six months or more.
- Once the basic details of the head of the family are taken by the enumerator, an acknowledgement slip will be issued. This slip may be required for enrolment in NPR, whenever that process begins.
- And, once the details are recorded in every local (village or ward), sub-district (tehsil or taluk), district and State level, there will be a population register at each of these levels.
- Together, they constitute the National Population Register.
How NPR is different from Census?
- The census involves a detailed questionnaire — there were 29 items to be filled up in the 2011 census — aimed at eliciting the particulars of every person, including age, sex, marital status, children, occupation, birthplace, mother tongue, religion, disability and whether they belonged to any SC or ST.
- On the other hand, the NPR collects basic demographic data and biometric particulars.
- While the census is legally backed by the Census Act, 1948, the NPR is a mechanism outlined in a set of rules framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
What is the legal basis for the NPR?
- Section 14A was inserted in the Citizenship Act, 1955, in 2004, providing for the compulsory registration of every citizen of India and the issue of a “national identity card” to him or her.
- It also said the Central government may maintain a “National Register of Indian Citizens”.
- The Registrar General India shall act as the “National Registration Authority” (and will function as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration). Incidentally, the Registrar General is also the country’s Census Commissioner.
- The NPR is the first step towards establishing the NRIC.
Is there any link between the NPR and Aadhaar?
- Better targeting and delivery of benefits and services under the government was one of the early objectives of the NPR.
- During the early days of the NPR enrolment, under the UPA regime, the UIDAI scheme for issuance of Aadhaar numbers was also concurrently on.
- There was a conflict between the Union Home Ministry, which administers the NPR, and UIDAI, leaving the impression that there was duplication of work, as both involved gathering personal particulars, including biometric data.
- Ultimately, they agreed that both databases will exist with different objectives, and that each will use the other’s biometric data.
- Those already enrolled for Aadhaar need not give their biometric details again during NPR.
- At the same time, data captured for NPR would be sent to UIDAI for “de-duplication”.
- In case of discrepancy between Aadhaar and NPR data, the latter would prevail. The present regime decided to update the NPR originally created after the 2011 Census.
How are NRIC and NPR related?
- Out of the NPR, a set of all usual residents of India, the government proposes to create a database of “citizens of India”.
- Thus, the “National Register of Indian Citizens” (NRIC) is a sub-set of the NPR.
- The NRIC will be prepared at the local, sub-district, district and State levels after verifying the citizenship status of the residents.
- The rules say the particulars of every family and individual found in the Population Register shall be verified and scrutinized by the Local Registrar.
Is the NRIC complete after this step?
- A draft of the Local Register of Indian Citizens shall be published to invite objections or claims for inclusion or corrections.
- Any objection or request for inclusion must be made within 30 days of the publication of the draft. The sub-district or taluk registrar shall summarily dispose of the objections within 90 days.
- Thereafter, the entries in the Local Register will be transferred to the National Registrar.
What is National Register of Citizens (NRC)
Purpose: To separate “illegal” immigrants from “legitimate” residents of Assam.
Nodal Agency: Registrar General and Census Commissioner India.
- National Register of Citizens, 1951 is a register prepared after the conduct of the Census of 1951 in respect of each village, showing the houses or holdings in a serial order and indicating against each house or holding the number and names of persons staying therein.
- The NRC was published only once in 1951.
- The issue of its update assumed importance as Assam witnessed large-scale illegal migration from erstwhile East Pakistan and, after 1971, from present-day Bangladesh.
- This led to the six-year-long Assam movement from 1979 to 1985, for deporting illegal migrants.
- The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) led the movement that demanded the updating of the NRC and the deportation of all illegal migrants who had entered Assam after 1951.
- The movement culminated in the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985.
- It set March 25, 1971, as the cut-off date for the deportation of illegal migrants.
- Since the cut-off date prescribed under articles 5 and 6 of the Constitution was July 19, 1949 - to give force to the new date, an amendment was made to the Citizenship Act, 1955, and a new section was introduced.
- It was made applicable only to Assam.
- There had been intermittent demands from AASU and other organisations in Assam for updating the NRC, an Assam based NGO filed a petition at the Supreme Court.
- In December 2014, a division bench of the apex court ordered that the NRC be updated in a time-bound manner.
- The NRC of 1951 and the Electoral Roll of 1971 (up to midnight of 24 March 1971) are together called Legacy Data. Persons and their descendants whose names appeared in these documents are certified as Indian citizens.
- Incentivize States for disinvestment in PSEs’: Fifteenth Finance Commission Chairperson N.K. Singh called for states to come up with their own strategies for disinvestment programme for State-owned public sector enterprises.
- Disinvestment means the dilution of stake of the Government in a public enterprise.
- Strategic disinvestment is transferring the ownership and control of a public sector entity to some other entity (mostly to a private sector entity).
- Unlike the simple disinvestment, strategic sale implies some sort of privatization.
- According to the government, strategic disinvestment would imply the sale of a substantial portion of the Government shareholding of a central public sector enterprises (CPSE) of upto 50%, or such higher percentage as the competent authority may determine, along with transfer of management control.
- Strategic disinvestment in India has been guided by the basic economic principle that the government should not be in the business to engage itself in manufacturing/producing goods and services in sectors where competitive markets have come of age, and economic potential of such entities may be better discovered in the hands of the strategic investors due to various factors, e.g., infusion of capital, technology up-gradation and efficient management practices etc.
State Election Commissions (SECs)
Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner (SEC) N. Ramesh Kumar has directed the Krishna District Collector to book a case of violation of the Model Code of Conduct, which is in force for the gram panchayat elections, and the Superintendent of Police to initiate criminal proceedings against Civil Supplies Minister Kodali Sri Venkateswara Rao (Nani) for “making vitriolic attacks on him,” as a follow up to Friday’s restraint order.
State Election Commissions (SECs)
- The State Election Commission has the responsibility to conduct free and fair elections to the local bodies in the states.
- According to Article 243K (1) of the Indian Constitution, the superintendence, direction and control of the elections to the Panchayats &Municipalities (Article 243ZA) shall be vested in a State Election Commission. State Election Commissioner is to be appointed by the Governor.
- As per Article 243K (2), the tenure and appointment will be directed as per the law made by the state legislature. State Election Commissioner can only be removed in the same manner and on the same grounds as a Judge of a High Court.
Right to Censure
- Election Commissioner possesses the right to censure government officials who have been co-opted to carry out election duties.
- Election Commission has also asserted the right to prevent the transfers of officials during an election campaign. When the Commission feels that such transfers are likely to impede the fairness of the elections, they can make use of this power