Registering birth and death

Of Civil Registration System and its importance in our lives

SOCIETY

DR RUBEENA SHAHEEN

Births and deaths are the two most vital events that define life of an individual. Not only do they describe the legal existence of an individual, registration of these events is a source of basic data of the population to which they belong. 
The civil registration system (CSR) in India dates back to the middle of the 19th century. In independent India, Parliament enacted a law called Registration of Births and Deaths Act (RBD Act), 1969, which was enforced in most parts of the country in 1970 including the state of Jammu & Kashmir. This Act provides a uniform law for compulsory registration of births, deaths and still births across the country. The implementation of the law is the responsibility of the State Governments. One of the important aspects of the law is that the births and deaths are to be registered at the place of their occurrence that may not always be the place of residence of the parents/deceased.
For an individual, the main benefits of a civil registration system are provision of legal status and official documentation of important life events.
 Birth certificates are used for:
•  deriving benefits under the social welfare schemes
• First right of the child.
• To establish identity.
• Conclusive proof of age , necessary for  school admissions, preparation of driving license , passport etc
•  Entry into the National Population Register, a flagship project, through which Government of India is going to create a comprehensive identity database of all individuals residing in the country and on that database the government will issue identity cards to the individuals.
  Death certificates are used for:
• Settlement of inheritance and property  rights
• Getting insurance claims
• Family pensions
A major benefit of effective civil registration system is the role it plays in formulating effective planning for social and economic development. This vital record also facilitates planning, monitoring and evaluation in decentralized health systems, by providing information on health conditions at a regional and local level. The statistics based on death records are particularly important for identifying the magnitude and distribution of major diseases, and are essential for the design, implementation, monitoring and assessment of health programmes and policies. Developing counties are using birth registration to identify geographical differences in fertility, and have subsequently been able to introduce family planning programmes in locations where they were most needed. Birth monitoring has also shed light on some of the negative ramifications of new medical technologies, particularly prenatal sex selection. Civil registration can be used as an essential tool for obtaining more effective estimate of the true extent of maternal mortality, neonatal mortality, child sex ratio and still births. 
Registration of Births and Deaths Act 1969 defines a set of registration functionaries at the national, state and district level for the implementation of the provisions under the Act. Registration activities can be performed only by the designated authorities duly appointed under the provisions of the Act. The role and responsibility of CRS functionary is to ensure hundred percent registrations in the area under their jurisdiction which may have occurred in a house, institutions like hospitals, jail, hostel, Dharamshala or any other public place, and also ensure the delivery of birth and death certificates. Besides the CRS functionaries, the other key stakeholders in the registration process are the informants and the notifiers. The informant provides the first hand information about the birth or death event, and could be the head of the family, medical officer in charge of the hospital, or the person in charge of the place where the event takes place. The notifiers may be a midwife, a medical attendant, birth and death reporters or any other person whom the government has specified to notify. They notify the registrar in a prescribed format and within the prescribed time about every birth and death event that has occurred in his/her jurisdiction.
As per the provisions of the RBD Act 1969, the  birth and death events are to be reported within 21 days of occurrence of the event, if so the registration process is done  free of charges. If the information on occurrence of the event is given beyond 21days but within 30 days the event shall be registered on payment of late fee and if the information is given to the registrar beyond 30 days but within one year of the occurrence of the event, the registration is made only with the written permission of the prescribed authority and on the production of an affidavit made before a notary public.   Birth and death events which have not been registered within one year of its occurrence shall be registered only on an order made by a magistrate of the first class after verifying the correctness of the event. 
For registration of children born to citizens of India living outside India, special provisions have been made under the citizenship Act 1955 (57 of 1955). In case the parents of the child return to India with a view to settling therein, they may within 60 days of the arrival of the child in India get the birth registered, however the place of birth will remain the same where the child was born. Death to Indian citizens outside India cannot be registered in India; such deaths are to be registered at the Indian Consulates under the Citizenship Act 1955.The registration of births and deaths that occur in different situations like the registration of births of children taken on adoption, or children born through surrogacy /ART /IVF techniques is equally important. In cases of adoptions if the genetic parents of the child to be adopted are known then the birth certificates must have the entries of both the natural and the adoptive parents, but in case the natural parents are not known and the exact date and place of birth is also not known then in that case the birth certificate can  be issued only after certification of the age by a Chief Medical Officer and orders passed by the magistrate.
Taking advantage of latest trends and progress made in information technology, the process of registration of births and deaths has also been shifted to online mode from the usual paper mode.
 The government of Jammu & Kashmir, as part of e-governance initiative through the Housing and Urban Development Department Jammu & Kashmir, introduced the computerization of birth and death records, online registration of Births and Deaths and issuing online birth certificates to the citizens in Urban Local bodies including Srinagar Municipal Corporation and Jammu Municipal Corporation. 
Srinagar Municipal Corporation has computerised all previous vital records and is recording all the births and deaths events occurring within their jurisdiction online, since April 2012. The objective is to streamline the registration process of births and deaths events and improve the quality of service delivery to the citizen.
Since April 2012, Srinagar Municipal Corporation has facilitated online registration of 76892 births and 5355 deaths. During this period, Health officer SMC who is registrar birth and deaths for birth and deaths occurring within Srinagar Municipal limits has issued 16403 birth certificates and 3134 death certificates to the citizens. In addition, through the online citizen services portal the citizens have accessed and downloaded 8567 birth certificates during the period. SMC with the support of   NGO’s (Chotey Taray Foundation and Association of Social Workers), working for the rights of children, identified children belonging to below poverty line (BPL) families whose parents were ignorant about the registration process, in some of the marginalized areas of Srinagar city. SMC registered more than 500 children in these areas and distributed the birth certificates free of cost to them. The endeavour to bring this service at their door step of the citizens will continue.     
(Dr Rubeena Shaheen MD, MPH is Health Officer , SMC)
rubina16@gmail.com

Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Apr 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Apr 2013 00:00:00 IST




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