Context:

Migrants belonging to the six non-Muslim minority communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, while applying for long-term visas (LTVs), can also produce National Population Register (NPR) enrolment slips as proof of duration of their stay in India, according to a Union Home Ministry manual.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Citizenship)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the National Population Register (NPR)?
  2. Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA)
  3. Criticisms of the CAA
  4. Recent Home Ministry notification regarding NPR slips

What is the National Population Register (NPR)?

  • The NPR is a database of usual residents in the country who have stayed in a local area for the past six months or more and who intend to remain in the same place for the next six months or more.
  • The NPR is individual and identity specific unlike the Census which only provides information on the status of the residents of India and population swings.
  • The NPR database was first created in 2010.
  • The data collection is done under the aegis of the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India.
  • The NPR is undertaken under the provisions of The Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • The NPR was last updated, except in Assam and Meghalaya, in 2015-16.

Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA)

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) was notified in December 2019 and came into force from January 2020, amending the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • The Citizenship Act,1955 provides various ways in which citizenship may be acquired: providing for citizenship by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation and by incorporation of the territory into India.
  • The objective of the CAA is to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities — Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian — from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
  • Those from these communities who had come to India till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution in their respective countries, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
  • The Act provides that the central government may cancel the registration of OCIs on certain grounds.
  • The Act does not apply to tribal areas of Tripura, Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya because of being included in the 6th Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Also, areas that fall under the Inner Limit notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, will also be outside the Act’s purview.

Criticisms of the CAA

  • It violates the basic tenets of the Constitution. Illegal immigrants are distinguished on the basis of religion.
  • It is perceived to be a demographic threat to indigenous communities.
  • It makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to equality.
  • It attempts to naturalise the citizenship of illegal immigrants in the region.
  • It allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences.

Recent Home Ministry notification regarding NPR slips

  • The NPR number is part of an illustrative list of more than ten documents that could be provided to apply for a LTV, which is a precursor to acquiring Indian citizenship either by naturalisation or registration under Section 5 and 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 for the six communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists — from the three countries.
  • The special provision of LTVs for Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and Afghanistan was first made in 2011.
  • The Citizenship Rules framed in 2003 says that NPR is the first step towards compilation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) or NRC.
  • The next phase of the NPR, expected to include contentious questions on date and place of birth of father and mother, last place of residence and mother tongue was to be simultaneously updated with the 2021 House Listing and Housing Census that has been indefinitely postponed due to COVID-19.
  • According to detailed guidelines issued by the Home Ministry on documents that can be produced to prove the date of entry of the minority community migrants currently in India, the “slip issued by the Census enumerators” while conducting survey for preparation of the NPR prior to December 31, 2014 can be provided.
  • The migrants who can apply for LTVs will have to produce any document issued by the governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan “clearly showing the religion of the applicant like school certificate etc. to establish that the applicant is from a minority community,” the guidelines said.

-Source: The Hindu

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