Union Home Ministry Introduces Bill to Digitize Birth Records and Make Aadhaar Mandatory

In an effort to modernize and simplify record-keeping processes, the Union Home Ministry has put forth a new Bill during the ongoing session of Parliament, seeking to amend the Registration of Birth and Death Act 1969. This legislative initiative is centered around two primary objectives: the digitization of birth records and the mandatory requirement of Aadhaar for birth and death registration. By integrating technology and the unique identification system, the government aims to streamline documentation procedures and enhance the accessibility of government services for citizens.

The proposed amendments will bestow legal validity upon Aadhaar as a necessary document for birth and death registration, a departure from the current practice where its usage is not obligatory. The Registrar General of India (RGI) will be vested with the authority to carry out Aadhaar authentication for births and deaths, ensuring accuracy and authenticity in maintaining vital records.

Under the new Bill, individuals who possess Aadhaar during the time of birth and death registration will be required to furnish it, further promoting accurate record-keeping and authentication. Additionally, the usage of birth certificates will be made mandatory for various purposes, including enrollment in schools, voter registration, marriage, passport issuance, and government job applications.

The registration process will be streamlined through the creation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between States and the RGI, enabling seamless data sharing via an Application Programming Interface (API). The RGI will maintain a comprehensive register of births and deaths, with States obligated to share real-time data, ensuring a constant and updated National Population Register (NPR), electoral register, and databases like Aadhaar, ration cards, passports, and driving licenses.

While these proposed changes aim to improve efficiency and accuracy, critics express concerns about potential misuse as a mechanism for population control and surveillance. Past instances of linking Aadhaar to databases have raised privacy issues, and the Supreme Court has acknowledged the fundamental right to privacy in such cases.

The Bill aims to simplify registration procedures for births and deaths, applying to individuals born after its enactment. States will be required to register such events on the Centre’s Civil Registration System (CRS) portal and share the data with the Registrar General of India. During birth registration, Aadhaar numbers of parents and informants will be collected if available, while medical institutions will have the obligation to provide certificates of the cause of death to the Registrar and the nearest relative. Moreover, special “Sub-Registrars” will be appointed to expedite registration and issuance of death certificates during disasters or epidemics, ensuring a more responsive system during critical situations.