Lok Sabha clears bill on births, deaths registration despite concerns | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Lok Sabha clears bill on births, deaths registration despite concerns

ByAman Singh, New delhi
Aug 02, 2023 12:19 AM IST

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill that seeks to build a comprehensive database of births and deaths.

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill that seeks to build a comprehensive database of births and deaths and makes registration of birth certificate mandatory for voting, education, jobs and welfare.

A view of the Lok Sabha proceedings on Tuesday. (ANI)
A view of the Lok Sabha proceedings on Tuesday. (ANI)

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The bill was passed in the Lower House by a voice votewith Opposition leaders raising concerns about the provisions that make linking Aadhaar with birth certificate mandatory, and denying people education and welfare because their births were not duly registered. But the government brushed aside the concerns.

“There is no doubt in this bill. We do not want any further delay in our services to the public… In order to prepare a digital database, we have brought this… We also put the draft for public opinion and we have incorporated the suggestions,” Union minister of state for home Nityanand Rai said.

The minister also said that the law regulating births and deaths had not been amended since 1969 and with technological advancements, there was a need to make the law more citizen friendly.

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The bill makes the use of birth and death certificates mandatory to prove the date and place of birth of any person born on or after the bill comes into effect. The information on the birth certificate will be used for purposes such as admission to educational institutions, preparation of voter lists, appointment to a government post, and other purposes determined by the central government.

The certificate will be the only conclusive proof to determine the age of a person, and not having a birth certificate could cut off a person’s right to vote or ability to apply for government jobs or admission to educational institutions. The national database for births and deaths will be shared with the authorities maintaining other databases (such as electoral rolls, ration cards), the bill added.

The bill also allows the Registrar General to maintain a national database of registered births and deaths. The chief registrars (appointed by states) and registrars (appointed by states for local area jurisdiction) will be obligated to share data of registered births and deaths to the national database. The chief registrar shall maintain a similar database at the state level.

The bill links the Aadhaar details of the parents and the person who report the birth in the birth certificate -- such as doctors in hospitals, jailors in case of birth in jails, manager of hotels or guest houses, and police officers in case they find an abandoned child within their jurisdiction.

A total of 24.22 million births were registered in India in 2020, according to the Civil Registration System (CRS). According to the Sample Registration System (SRS) report for the year, 19.5 children were born that year per 1,000 population. This means that an estimated 26.43 million births are likely to have taken place that year if one uses the mid-year population projection for 2020-21, giving a birth registration level of 91.6%.

Opposition leaders raised concerns that cutting people off from welfare entitlements and education might be unconstitutional, and making Aadhaar linkage mandatory could run afoul of the Supreme Court’s 2017 judgment that affirmed privacy as a fundamental right.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi called the bill back-door NRC (National Register of Citizens).

“In a democracy, the government must be transparent but the citizen’s lives must be protected. But this government believes in the opposite. When we ask for data on poverty or deaths in Covid, the government says no data is available. But the government feels it is entitled to collect all our personal and private data,” he said.

Owaisi accused the government of being intrusive, calling it a “jhaanku uncle” (peeping tom. He also said that the bill violated the fundamental right to privacy. “This is a backdoor NRC and it is unconstitutional,” he added.

Sangeeta Azad of the Bahujan Samaj Party MP backed the bill. She also suggested that the government ease the process of submission of life certificates by pensioners.

Rahul Shewale of the Shiv Sena also supported the bill. “The bill will make provisions for issuing passport, Aadhaar number, and any other purpose to prevent the multiplicity of documents to authenticate the date and place of birth of an individual. It has been criticized for invading the privacy of the citizens,” he said.

When the bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 26, Congress MP Manish Tewari had opposed it, citing privacy issues. “ I rise to oppose the introduction of the said bill on want of legislative competence on three counts. First it transgresses on the right to privacy, number two, second it transgresses on the right to the separation of powers, and three it suffers from the malady of excessive delegation.”

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