In view of the countrywide lockdown imposed to control COVID19 outbreak, the Union Home Ministry on Wednesday announced that the preparatory work for updation of National Population Register, which was scheduled to begin from April 1, 2020, will stand deferred until further orders.
The first phase of Census 2021 has also been deferred until further orders.
This was informed by a press release from the Office of Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India on Wednesday afternoon.
Office of Registrar General & Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, announces that first phase of Census 2021 and updation of NPR, scheduled to begin from April 1, 2020, are postoponed until further orders due to COVID-19 pandemic.#NPR #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/4GBGyMBQRa— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) March 25, 2020
On July 31, 2019, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had issued the gazette notification for starting the information collection for NPR throughout the country (except Assam) between April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020.
NPR - a register of usual residents of the country - has its base in the rules framed by the Central Government under the Citizenship Act, 1955 in 2003 called the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
The data for National Population Register was first collected in 2010 alongwith the houselisting phase of Census of India 2011. The updation of this data was done during 2015 by conducting door to door survey.
The decision for NPR updation in 2020 had run into controversy following its perceived nexus with the proposed National Register of Citizens.
Both the NPR and NRC are governed by the same legal regime - the 2003 Citizenship Rules. The Registrar General, India acts as the National Registration Authority for NPR. Incidentally, the same officer also functions as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration for NRC.
As per these Rules, NRC will contain the details of the persons after "due verification made from" the NPR.
The Rules give power to the Local Register to mark 'doubtful citizens' after the verification of NPR particulars.
Hence, the NPR updation exercise was perceived as the precursor for the nationwide NRC. This sparked countrywide protests.
In view of the protest, many state governments such as Kerala, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi, Telangana etc, decided to halt NRP updation process.