What is the directive on detention centres?- The Hindu- 29-12-2019, Page-14
Recently the Union Cabinet has given its nod for updation of the National Population
Register (NPR) across the country. Given that NPR is the 1st step towards compiling the
National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) and recent passing of the Citizenship
Amendment Act 2019 the step has evoked objection from some states particularly
relating to the detention centres that are required in case the NRIC is compiled.
National Population Register
• National Population Register is a database of ‘usual residents’ of the country. ‘Usual
Residents’ of an area are persons who have resided in an area for past 6 months or
intend to reside for next 6 months. Besides NPR has demographic and biometric data.
• In this sense NPR is an identity database of population including both citizens and non-
National Register of Indian Citizens
• Currently India does not have a national identity card for citizens.
• Section 14A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 inserted in 2004, makes it mandatory for the
Central Government to register every citizen of India and issue a national identity card
to all citizens.
• Accordingly the Central government has framed the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens
and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 to register all citizens and issuing
national identity cards to them.
NPR and NRIC
• Since NPR is a database containing all usual residents including ‘citizens’ and ‘non-
citizens’, NPR is seen as the first step towards compiling the National Register of Indian
• Once the NPR is compiled the local authorities will verify the citizenship status of the
usual residents and classify the citizen for updation in NRIC. Thus, the “National Register
of Indian Citizens” (NRIC) is a sub-set of the NPR.
• Thus NPR was first collated in 2010 as a database of 119 crore usual residents.
• Now the government has given its nod for updation of NPR to include additional
parameters such as “place of birth of father and mother, last place of residence,
Aadhaar (optional), voter ID, mobile phone and driving licence numbers.
CAA and NRIC
• The recent Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 extends citizenship to illegal migrants of
the minority communities of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
• The migrants belonging to minority communities including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists,
Jains, Parsis and Christians who entered India on or before December 31 2014 are
eligible for citizenship by naturalization.
• Under Section 3(2)(c) of The Foreigners Act, 1946 the Centre has the power to deport
foreign nationals staying illegally in the country.
• Pending deportation the foreigners who have overstayed their stay in India are confined
to detention centres/camps.
• Accordingly the central government has, on a number of occasions (1998, 2009, 2012,
2014, and 2018) has directed all states and UTs to restrict the movement of convicted foreign nationals and those who have overstrayed beyond the visa term and confine
them to detention centres/camps.
• Recently in January, 2019, a detailed manual on “model detention centres” was
circulated to make a distinction between “jails and detention centres”.
• Now after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed there are fears that those
excluded from NPR-NRC will be sent to detention centres.
Detention centres in states
• As of now Delhi, Goa, Rajasthan have a detention centre each.
• Besides Karnataka, Maharashtra and Punjab have identified locations for detention
• West Bengal had identified two locations but now the state government has declared
that it will not allow any such centre in the State.
• Kerala, which was also in the process of identifying a location, has also put it on hold.
• In the recently concluded NRC in Assam more than 19 lakh out of 3.29 crore residents
have been identified as illegal immigrants.
• These illegal immigrants have the option to appeal in Foreigners Tribunal and
subsequently in courts.
• While Foreigners Tribunals have been established in Assam, in no other State they have
• Besides now that the CAA has been passed, preparation of NPR if done for the purpose
of collating a NRIC, is feared to put the future of a number of illegal immigrants
particularly the Muslim community hangs in balance.