Gaps in Births and Deaths Registration (Amendment) Act
Recently, a significant development has taken place, where the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023, has received parliamentary approval and the President’s assent. This marks the first amendment to the act since its inception.
GS – 01, GS – 02 (Health)
- National Population Register
- Registrar General of India
- Critically analyze the implications of the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023, on the establishment of national and state-level databases, the coordination between central and state authorities, and its potential to streamline public service delivery. (250 words)
Registration of Birth and Death (RBD) Act:
- The Registration of Births and Deaths in India has become obligatory following the introduction of the RBD Act in 1969.
- This process is carried out according to the location where the respective event occurs.
- The responsibility for registering births and deaths falls under the jurisdiction of the State governments as stipulated in the RBD Act.
- Each State designates a Chief Registrar, entrusted with the operational enforcement of the Act. This individual holds the authority to oversee the Act’s implementation.
- An organized hierarchy of officials operates at various levels within districts and lower administrative tiers to carry out the necessary tasks.
- The RBD Act designates the Registrar General of India (RGI) to assume the role of coordinating and streamlining the execution of the RBD Act across the nation.
Dimensions of the Article:
- Building Comprehensive Databases
- Integration with Existing Databases
- Challenges and Aadhaar Integration
- The Central vs. State Databases Debate
- Sharing Information and Legislative Demeanor
- Cause of Death Certification Challenges
- Addressing Missing Persons and Presumed Deaths
Building Comprehensive Databases:
- The primary objective of the amendment is to establish both national and state-level databases of registered births and deaths.
- These databases are aimed at facilitating the enhancement of various public services and social benefits through improved data accuracy and accessibility.
Integration with Existing Databases:
- The Bill mandates the Registrar General of India to maintain a national database, while State-level databases are to be maintained by Chief Registrars of births and deaths in each state.
- These databases are crucial for updating other prominent databases such as the National Population Register, Aadhaar database, electoral rolls, ration cards, and passports.
Challenges and Aadhaar Integration:
- While the Bill requires collecting the Aadhaar numbers of parents during birth registration, there’s no mention of collecting the Aadhaar number of the deceased.
- This omission could hinder the removal of deceased individuals’ names from databases, impacting the goal of transparent service delivery.
- The aspiration to enhance public services could remain unrealized without comprehensive data collection.
The Central vs. State Databases Debate:
- The existing registration hierarchy allocates the responsibility of registration to State governments, with the Registrar General of India playing a coordinating role.
- The introduction of a central database under the Registrar General’s purview raises questions about its necessity.
- The national database could potentially be a conglomeration of State-level databases, making a unified State-level data flow equally viable.
Sharing Information and Legislative Demeanor:
- The Bill emphasizes making the central-level database available to authorities managing various databases like population registers, electoral rolls, Aadhaar numbers, and more.
- However, the inclusion of certain databases in the Bill, with the possibility of future additions, raises concerns about Parliament’s legislative authority.
- Leaving potential database additions to executive decisions might undermine the Parliament’s role.
Cause of Death Certification Challenges:
- The amendment mandates the issuance of cause of death certificates for deaths occurring within medical institutions. Yet, this approach faces challenges, including cases where medical practitioners might lack a definitive diagnosis before death.
- Moreover, compatibility issues might arise when practitioners from alternative medicine systems record causes of death, potentially affecting international statistical classifications.
Addressing Missing Persons and Presumed Deaths:
- The Act falls short in addressing missing persons during natural disasters or accidents. Although searches are eventually called off by the police, families must wait seven years to request a “presumed dead” certificate.
- This gap could be bridged by introducing provisions that allow for registering presumed deaths in calamities, expediting the issuance of death certificates for affected families.
To harness the potential benefits of the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023, effective implementation strategies should be devised. Collaboration between central and state authorities is crucial for ensuring seamless data integration and utilization. Simultaneously, addressing challenges related to Aadhaar integration, cause of death certification, and legislative oversight will strengthen the amendment’s impact.