NPR update will mean unsanctioned state surveillance, plea in SC


NEW DELHI | JAN 28, 2020:

A plea in the Supreme Court claims the data collected under the amended citizenship law and the process to update National Population Register (NPR) "may lead to possible unsanctioned state surveillance of private citizens who have not engaged in unlawful activity".

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant issued notice to the Centre on this plea, which also challenged the rules notified in 2003 for registration of citizens and issuance of National Identity Cards.

"The entire exercise of creation and updation of the NPR is a gross invasion of privacy of private citizens. The nature of the exercise is manifestly arbitrary with no grounds being specified apart from no guarantee of protection and security of the data/information so collected. Such database would erode basic freedom that the person within India currently enjoys," said the plea filed by Udagar Ram, Bimalesh Kumar Yadav and Sanjay Safi. The plea claims the process to update the NPR and Census are entirely different exercises.

The plea contended that the exercise to update the NPR assumes that all the persons residing within the territory of India are not citizens of India and shifts the onus to the person to disclose information to prove their citizenship. The plea also challenged the vires of Section 14-A of the Citizenship Act, 1955. "In terms of Section 15 of the Census Act, the records of Census are not open to inspection or admissible in evidence. As such the collection of such information not enjoying the same security as the Census Act, is manifestly arbitrary," it said.

The petition urged the top court to pass direction to declare Section 14-A the Citizenship Act, 1955 as unconstitutional and null and void and ultra vires Articles 9, 14, and 21A of the Constitution.