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Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023

  • Published
    18th Aug, 2023

Recently, the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023, has been passed by Parliament and has got the assent of the President of India.

  • It was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 26, 2023.
About the Bill:
  • Objective: To create a National and State level database of registered births and deaths which would help in updating other databases resulting in efficient and transparent delivery of public services and social benefits.
  • Need to record the birth and deaths at national level: The database at the central level is made available to authorities dealing with the maintenance and preparation of databases relating to the population register, electoral rolls, Aadhaar number, ration card, passport, driving licence, property registration and such other databases at the national level, as may be notified.

The registration hierarchy is the responsibility of State governments, with the Registrar General of India having only the role of coordination and unification of the registration system

Highlights of Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023:

  • Connecting database: The Bill makes it compulsory that the Registrar General of India maintains a national level database of births and deaths, and that the Chief Registrar of births and deaths in every State is required to maintain a State-level database of registered births and deaths ‘using the portal approved by the Registrar General of India.
  • In case of Birth:
    • In the case of birth, the amendments provide for collecting the Aadhaar number of the parents.
    • Nothing is mentioned about the Aadhaar number of the deceased.
  • In case of Death:
    • The State government could decide that a cause of death certificate should be issued by the medical practitioner who attended the deceased person so that the certificate can be sent along with the death report.
    • The amendments make it compulsory that for all deaths in medical institutions, a cause of death certificate be sent to the Registrar of Births and Deaths and a copy of the certificate is provided to the closest relative.
    • For deaths that occur outside hospitals, the medical practitioner who attended to the deceased during the person’s recent illness has to issue such a certificate.
  • Electronic certificates: The Act provides that any person may: (i) cause a search to be made by the Registrar for any entry in a register of births and deaths, and (ii) obtain an extract from the register related to any birth or death.  The Bill amends this to provide for obtaining a birth or death certificate (electronically or otherwise) instead of extracts.
  • Appeal process: Any person aggrieved by any action or order of the Registrar or District Registrar may appeal to the District Registrar or Chief Registrar, respectively. Such an appeal must be made within 30 days from receipt of such action or order.  The District Registrar or Chief Registrar must give their decision within 90 days from the date of appeal.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • The registration of births and deaths falls under the Concurrent List, giving powers to both Parliament and state legislatures to make laws on the subject.
  • As of 2019, the national level of registration of births was 93% and death registration was at 92%.

The Law Commission (2018) recommended the inclusion of marriage registration in the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969.

Concerns associated:

  • School admission: The Act also provides that no child should be denied admission on the grounds of lack of age proof. The Bill does not provide any such exemptions.  This implies that if a child’s birth has not been registered, they could be denied admission to educational institutions for their entire life
  • Aadhar linkage based issues:
    • Right to privacy: This provision may also violate the principles laid down in the Aadhaar judgement (Puttaswamy 2018).
    • The judgement said that the Aadhaar Act, 2016, was passed as a money Bill and read down provisions that permitted linking of Aadhaar for purposes other than government benefits and services.
  • Linking state and National data with other departments: However, such linkage across databases under the Bill does not require consent from the person whose data is being linked. This may violate an individual’s right to privacy.
  • Sole powers to certifying authority: A further consequence could be that this gives the authority issuing birth certificates significant powers to affect an individual’s life. This may lead to perverse incentives that could lead to corruption.  
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