Notice on fresh petitions challenging CAA, NPR
The Supreme Court on 27 January 2020 issued a notice to the Central government on fresh petitions filed before it challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and National Population Register (NPR) process. A Bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde refused to pass an order to stay the process and tagged the pleas along with other petitions scheduled to be heard by the court. Fresh petitions were filed before the Supreme Court against the amended citizenship law and population register by All India United Democratic Front, Ason Jana Morcha, and others.
- One of the petitions said that the collection of such data may lead to possible unsanctioned state surveillance of private citizens who have not engaged in unlawful activity.
- No provision or responsibilities have been fixed in case of unauthorised access to the data by third parties, the petition said.
- The nature of the exercise is manifestly arbitrary with no grounds 'doubtfulness' being specified apart from no guarantee of protection and security of the data/information so collected. Such a database would erode basic freedoms that the persons within India currently enjoy, it said.
- The plea said that the entire exercise of creating and updating the population register is a "gross invasion of privacy of private citizens".
- Last week, the Supreme Court had granted the Central government, four weeks' time to file a reply on over 140 petitions regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and refused to put a stay on the newly enacted law.
- The Citizenship Amendment Act, which is facing protest and opposition across the country, grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh and who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.
What is the NPR?
- The NPR is a list of “usual residents of the country”. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, a “usual resident of the country” is one who has been residing in a local area for at least the last six months, or intends to stay in a particular location for the next six months.
- Unlike the NRC, the NPR is not a citizenship enumeration drive, as it would record even a foreigner staying in a locality for more than six months.
- The NPR is being prepared under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. It is mandatory for every “usual resident of India” to register in the NPR.
- It will be conducted in conjunction with the houselisting phase, the first phase of the Census, by the Office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Home Ministry for Census 2021.Only Assam will not be included, given the recently completed NRC.
- The NPR exercise is conducted at the local, sub-district, district, state and national levels.
- The RGI has already begun a pilot project in over 1,200 villages and 40 towns and cities through 5,218 enumeration blocks, where it is collecting various data from people. The final enumeration will begin in April 2020 and end in September 2020.