Amid Oppn, Law Minister Says States Will be Consulted Before NRC, NPR Data May Not be Used for Exercise
File photo of Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said a “proper legal process” will be followed for a nation-wide National Register of Citizens (NRC), including consultation with state governments, and “some” data collected for National Population Register (NPR) “may or may not be used” for the NRC exercise.
Speaking about the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act and NRC, which have triggered widespread protests across the country, Prasad said in an interview to the Indian Express: “There is a legal process. First a decision, second a notification, then the process, the verification, the objection, the hearing of the objection, right of appeal. There will be a consultation with the state government, feedback will be taken. If anything is to be done, it will be done publicly. Nothing will be a secret on an NRC.”
The minister’s remarks come in the backdrop of several state governments opposing the implementation of a nationwide NRC. This includes Bihar, which is run by BJP’s ally JDU.
Home Minister Amit Shah had said earlier that the NPR and NRC were governed by different laws and NPR data would never be used for the NRC exercise. “There is no connection between the two processes, nor can they be used in each other’s survey,” he said.
Clarifying his government’s stand, Prasad said no decision had been taken yet on documents that would be acceptable for a nation-wide NRC. “This question is entirely academic. When the process will start under Rule 3 and Rule 4 of The Citizenship (Registration of Citizen and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, then there will be a proper public declaration of that,” he told the Indian Express.
The law minister also defended the Centre’s decision to initiate a fresh NPR, saying it was necessary as the Census data “cannot be made public” to any authority and the NPR data would be used to frame policies for delivery of welfare schemes.
When asked if Hindus could use CAA as a shield if excluded from the NRC, Prasad said Indian Muslims “have no grounds to fear” from either, and added, “No Indian can get or be denied citizenship because of CAA”.
The minister said, “The NRC is a completely different provision. It is only related to citizens of India. I want to urge Indian Muslims that they have no grounds to fear. CAA is only for those Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jain, Sikh and Parsis who are from three countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan). CAA is not applicable to any Indian.”