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The Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Act of 1969, which mandates the registration of births and deaths across India, is set to undergo amendments with the passage of the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023. This marks the first revision since its inception, aiming to create a national and state-level database of registered births and deaths. However, certain gaps and challenges arise from these proposed amendments.
Objective and Database Creation
The amendment seeks to establish a comprehensive database of registered births and deaths at both the national and state levels. While the intention is commendable, the requirement for Aadhaar numbers of parents during birth registration is addressed, but no mention is made of collecting the Aadhaar number of the deceased. The success of updating databases and removing deceased individuals’ information hinges on this crucial data point.
Central vs. State Databases
The amendment introduces the concept of a national database to be maintained by the Registrar General of India, in addition to the existing state-level databases managed by Chief Registrars. However, given that the national database is essentially a compilation of state-level databases, questions arise regarding the necessity of a separate national repository. Instead, a system could be devised to allow relevant data to flow seamlessly from state-level databases to other national databases.
Need for a National-Level Database
The amendment mandates sharing the central-level database with authorities overseeing various national databases such as the population register, Aadhaar, and electoral rolls. However, the requirement for amending laws or executive orders governing these databases to facilitate data sharing might be unnecessary. Birth and death registers are already considered public documents, and the RBD Act might only need a provision enabling data sharing.
Parliament’s Role and Future Additions
The Bill’s listing of specific databases for consideration by Parliament, with the option for future additions, poses concerns. Leaving the decision of new additions to the government potentially diminishes the oversight role of Parliament. This could lead to unforeseen implications, such as the introduction of controversial additions that weren’t initially approved by Parliament.
Challenges with Cause of Death Certification
The amendment introduces a requirement for a cause of death certificate to be issued for deaths in medical institutions. However, several challenges arise, including cases where medical practitioners hadn’t reached a definite diagnosis before death. Furthermore, practitioners from alternative medicine systems might provide cause of death information that doesn’t align with international standards. Certifying deaths outside medical facilities also presents challenges when the practitioner wasn’t available during the person’s final moments.
Birth and Death Certificates as Proof
The amendment declares that birth certificates alone can serve as proof of date and place of birth for various purposes. This shift, while beneficial, might not require legislative amendments but could be achieved through rule changes or executive orders. This flexibility allows for adjustments without formal legislative changes.
Addressing Missing Persons in Calamities
The Act overlooks a critical scenario—natural calamities and accidents leading to missing persons. Currently, families must wait for seven years to request a “presumed dead” certificate. An amendment could address this gap by introducing provisions for registering presumed deaths in cases where it is reasonable to assume that individuals would have perished due to the calamity or accident.
In conclusion, while the Births and Deaths Registration (Amendment) Act aims to enhance data management and transparency, several gaps and challenges merit attention. Clarity on Aadhaar collection, the necessity of a national database, Parliament’s oversight, cause of death certification, and missing persons due to calamities should all be thoroughly addressed to ensure the effective implementation of these amendments.
Frequently Asked Questions about Gaps in the Births and Deaths Registration (Amendment) Act
What is the Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Act of 1969?
The RBD Act of 1969 mandates the compulsory registration of births and deaths under a uniform law across India. It provides the legal framework for maintaining records of births and deaths in the country.
What are the proposed amendments to the RBD Act?
The proposed amendments, known as the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023, aim to create a national and state-level database of registered births and deaths. This is intended to enhance the efficiency and transparency of delivering public services and social benefits.
Why is collecting Aadhaar numbers important in the registration process?
The proposed amendments require collecting the Aadhaar numbers of parents during birth registration. This data is crucial for updating databases and removing deceased individuals’ information from various records, ensuring accuracy and efficiency.
What is the significance of a national-level database?
The amendment introduces a national-level database in addition to state-level databases. However, questions have been raised regarding the necessity of maintaining a separate national repository, given that it essentially compiles data from state-level databases.
How can data sharing between databases be facilitated?
While the amendment mandates sharing the central-level database with authorities overseeing other national databases, the need for amending laws or executive orders might not be necessary. Birth and death registers are already considered public documents, allowing for information sharing.
How are cause of death certificates impacted by the amendment?
The amendment introduces the requirement for a cause of death certificate for deaths in medical institutions. However, challenges arise, such as cases where medical practitioners couldn’t determine a definite cause before death, or when practitioners from alternative medicine systems provide non-standard information.
Can birth certificates alone serve as proof of birth?
The amendment declares that birth certificates alone can serve as proof of date and place of birth for various purposes. This shift might not require legislative amendments but can be achieved through rule changes or executive orders.
What is the issue with missing persons in calamities?
The Act currently requires families to wait seven years to request a “presumed dead” certificate for missing persons due to calamities. The amendment could address this by allowing for the registration of “presumed deaths” when reasonable to assume individuals perished in such situations.
In summary, the proposed amendments to the Births and Deaths Registration Act aim to enhance data management and transparency. However, questions arise regarding the necessity of a national-level database, data sharing, cause of death certification, and addressing missing persons in calamities. These aspects should be carefully considered to ensure the effectiveness of the amendments.
Sources: The Hindu