[Answered]A faulty implementation of the NRC could create a human rights issue of unimaginable magnitude. Comment.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual introduction.

Body. Significance of NRC. How faulty implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) could create a human rights issue?

Conclusion. Way forward.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a document containing the name of all Indian citizens of Assam. The NRC is seen as a major instrument for security and peace of Assam and other north-eastern states. On similar lines it is said that there should be an NRC at national level. Under the Citizenship Act of 1955, the central government may compulsorily register every citizen of India and issue a national identity card to him. Whether such a register is needed and can be simulated as national level need to be examined thoroughly.

Significance of NRC:

  1. Ensure People’s Right: A national NRC will clear the actual number of illegal migrants in India. It will prevent further illegal migration that will ensure the rights of Indian citizens in a better way.
  2. Better policy measures and implementation: It will provide a verified database to implement targeted policies and calibrated policy measures for benefits of Indian citizens especially tribal people. This will weed out fake beneficiaries.
  3. Enhance internal security: It will enhance internal security of the nation by keeping a check on illegal migration. Illegal migration lead to terrorist threat, counterfeit money etc. endangering the security of our nation.
  4. Prevent future illegal migration: Publication of an NRC at national level would deter future migrants illegally. The publication of the draft NRC has already created a perception that staying in Assam without valid documentation will attract detention/jail term and deportation.
  5. Will reduce fake voting: Illegal migrants will find it difficult to procure Indian identity documents. Thus cases of vote for money through fake identities will reduce as persons whose names are not on the list will lose voting rights. Thus it will strengthen our electoral process.

How faulty implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) could create a human rights issue?

  1. Law and order problem: The implementation of NRC may lead to serious law and order problem in India and also in neighbouring states. Recent protests against citizenship amended act showed the violent nature of such acts and inability of states to prevent the law and order situation.
  2. Loss of Right to Vote: Right to vote is a constitutional right. People excluded from NRC would be barred from voting. Thus losing right to vote. Especially, the Muslims living in India who may find it difficult to produce their citizenship would lose their rights.
  3. Fake identities: There have been several cases of people having made fake official identity cards such as Aadhaar, PAN card, ration card and voter’s identity card. This will legalise their illegal migration.
  4. Loss of Properties: The left out whose names are not in the list will not be able to buy land or a house in the country. It will increase selling of benami properties especially by those who loose their citizenship.
  5. Judicial burden will increase: Since such ‘non citizens’ will go to judiciary for relief to substantiate their citizenship claim. Thus it will lead to overburdening of judiciary which is already overburdened.
  6. Stateless: A person’s citizenship is a basic human right. Declaring people foreigners in haste without judicially verifying their credentials can leave many human beings stateless.

Way forward:

  1. There is acute poverty of infrastructure across states to implement the constitutionally mandated Registration of births and deaths Act of 1969. In light of the severe capacity constraint, if the NRC is to be ever launched then the first step for the MHA should be to strengthen the existing infrastructure to account for at least every birth and death within the country.
  2. The need of the hour is that Union Government should clearly chart out the course of action regarding the fate of excluded people from final NRC data and political parties should refrain from colouring the entire NRC process through electoral prospects that may lead to communal violence.
  3. There is a need for a robust mechanism of legal support for the millions of people who have to prove their citizenship to India with their limited means.

Migration of outsiders to India has a long history. People of neighbouring states came to the state in search of work but illegal influx for over many decades has assumed political significance. NRC implementation is not an easy task and it could lead to disaster in society. At present, there is not much need to get into this kind of exercise at national level, as it can lead to unintended consequences.

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