The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003
The central government enacted The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules in December 2003 for The Citizenship Act, 1955. The Rules lay down guidelines for the government to prepare the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRC). They state that a house-to-house enumeration of the details of individuals and families (including name, place of birth and citizenship status) should be carried out.
In 2009, these Rules were amended to include special provisions and a schedule for the NRC in Assam, where the influx of Bangladeshi immigrants has been a matter of public debate and judicial scrutiny for many years. The first NRC in Assam was released in 1951, and the most recent NRC, which came out on August 31, 2019, excluded over 19.6 lakh applicants from a total of over 3.3 crore.
The 2003 Rules mention the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRC) and the Population Register. What is the difference between them?
The NRC is a register containing the details of Indian citizens living inside and outside India. These details include the citizen’s name, father’s and mother’s names, sex, date and place of birth, residential address, marital status, visible identification marks, date and serial number of the citizen’s registration, and his or her National Identity Number.
By contrast, the Population Register contains details of all those living in an Indian village, rural area, town, ward or an area demarcated by the Registrar General of Citizen Registration in a town, ward or urban area.
How can one be included in the NRC and can one appeal exclusion from it?
The NRC consists of different parts – the State Register of Indian Citizens, the District Register of Indian Citizens, the Sub-district Register of Indian Citizens, and the Local Register of Indian Citizens.
At the local level, the details of individuals and families living in a particular area under the Local Registrar’s jurisdiction are collected in the Population Register. These details are verified for the NRC through the house-to-house enumeration exercise mandated by the 2003 Rules.
In case a person’s citizenship status is found to be ‘doubtful’, he or she is informed immediately after the verification. Every person or family can be heard by the Sub-district or Taluk Registrar before the government decides whether to include or exclude him or her from the NRC.
How can one be included in the NRC in Assam?
In Assam, the District Magistrate must publish and publicly display copies of the 1951 NRC and electoral rolls up to midnight on March 24, 1971. The Local Registrar of Citizen Registration will then invite applications from residents to be included in the NRC.
After the verification and scrutiny of all applications, the Local Registrar will prepare a consolidated list and publish it in the local newspapers (with wide circulation in villages and wards) as the ‘draft NRC’. The consolidated list can include those people and their descendants whose names appear in the 1951 NRC or the electoral rolls till March 24, 1971. The consolidated list can also include those who were ‘originally inhabitants’ of the state and their descendants, provided their citizenship is ascertained ‘beyond doubt’.
The Local Registrar will also publish an additional list with the names of those excluded from the NRC in the local newspapers. The NRC in Assam excludes ‘foreigners’ who migrated to the state between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, and ‘illegal migrants’ who entered Assam after March 25, 1971.
How can one challenge exclusion from the NRC in Assam?
Those excluded from the draft NRC in Assam and those who wish to object to the inclusion of certain names in it can make an appeal to the Local Registrar of Citizen Registration within thirty days of the draft NRC’s publication. If their claims or objections are disposed of by the Local Registrar, they can make an appeal before a tribunal constituted under the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964.
Focus and Factoids by Pratik Dixit.
Ministry of Law and Justice
Government of India, New Delhi
10 Dec, 2003