8 Aug 2023 4:12 AM GMT
Late at night, after clearing the Delhi Services Bill, the Rajya Sabha passed the Registration Of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023 on Monday. The Bill had already been approved by the Lok Sabha on August 01. It seeks to amend the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, for the first time.According to its “Statement of Objects and Reasons”, the Bill seeks to create a National...
Late at night, after clearing the Delhi Services Bill, the Rajya Sabha passed the Registration Of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023 on Monday. The Bill had already been approved by the Lok Sabha on August 01. It seeks to amend the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, for the first time.
According to its “Statement of Objects and Reasons”, the Bill seeks to create a National and State level database of registered births and deaths which would help in updating other databases resulting in efficient and transparent delivery of public services and social benefits.
Some major changes which the Bill seeks to bring includes the appointment of a Registrar-General of India who may issue general directions for registration of births and deaths. The Bill adds that the Registrar General of India shall maintain the “database of registered births and deaths” “at the National level” and it shall be obligatory upon the Chief Registrar and the Registrars to share the data of registered births and deaths to such database.
“Database” is defined in the Bill as “the organised collection of data, generally stored and accessed in electronic form from a computer network.”
With the prior approval of the Central Government, the information of the national database of registered births and deaths, can be made available to the other authorities dealing with the preparation or maintenance of database relating to population register, electoral rolls, ration card, driving license, passport, property registration and “such other databases at the National level as may be notified.”
The Bill also proposes that “notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force”, the death and birth certificate, shall be used to prove the date and place of birth of a person who is born on or after the date of commencement of the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Act, 2023 for the following purposes:
“(a) admission to an educational institution;
(b) issuance of a driving licence;
(c) preparation of a voter list;
(d) registration of a marriage;
(e) appointment to a post in the Central Government or State Government or a local body or public sector undertaking or in any statutory or autonomous body under the Central Government or State Government;
(f) issuance of a passport;
(g) issuance of an Aadhaar number; and
(h) any other purpose as may be determined by the Central Government.”
The Bill also makes it mandatory for all medical institutions to provide a certificate as to the cause of death to the Registrar and a copy of the same to the nearest relative.
It also provides for collection of Aadhaar numbers of parents and informants, if available, in case of birth registration.
MP Nityanand Rai, speaking for the Bill in Rajya Sabha said, “The Bill will help in better implementation of public welfare schemes.” The records will be digitalised, the database will help in the welfare of the citizens, he added. Supporting the passing of the Bill he also said that the document provided will help in proving the date of birth and death required for various purposes today like employment and admissions.
The Bill, sparked the debate in Lok Sabha among opposition parties, MP Sangeeta Azad, BSP, from Lalganj said that there have been cases in Uttar Pradesh where people are declared dead to deprive them from their properties and welfare schemes. “Elderly Pensioners face serious problems in submitting documents to prove that they are alive as they have to run pillar to post in order to get these certificates,” she added.
MP Asaduddin Owaisi argued that “the proposed provisions of the Bill violates the fundamental right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution and as held by the Supreme Court in Puttaswamy judgement…” He further debated that interlinking of databases and sharing of information is violative of the three tests, “legality”, “need” and “proportionality” as laid down in Puttaswamy. He said centralising of database will lead to mass-surveillance that may be used for targeting the citizens and called the Bill, “a back-door NRC.”