Kathmandu, August 9
Lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties today asked the government to stop printing and distributing national identity cards without introducing a law.
Nepali Congress lawmakers Dilendra Prasad Badu, Devendra Raj Kandel and Amresh Kumar Singh, including the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Jhapat Bahadur Rawal, expressed their doubts about safety of data collected from the public.
The home ministry had registered the National Identity Card and Civil Registration Bill in the Parliament Secretariat on January 5. The bill was sent to the parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee for clause-wise discussion on February 3.
During today’s meeting, Badu said the bill has been put on hold in the parliamentary committee since then, as it was not clear on many issues such as data protection, and leakage of private information of people and businesspersons could threaten national security.
“Even in the absence of legislation, the Department of National ID and Civil Registration under the Ministry of Home Affairs started distributing national ID cards,” he said, questioning how the government could do so without first enforcing the concerned law.
Replying to the lawmakers, Prem Kumar Rai, secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs, said the National Identity Card Project was launched in 2008 with the support of Asian Development Bank and the purpose of the project was to provide biometric national ID cards to the public for which the government must collect personal data of citizens, such as name, date of birth, address, bank account details, telephone number and occupation.
NC lawmaker Singh said the government could not start the work without the governing law. “Since distributing National ID card is not legal, it should stop now,” he said. Singh asked the government and the committee chair to hold a discussion on Citizenship Bill which has been on hold for more than six months.
NCP lawmaker Rawal said without law, the government should not do any further works on national ID card.
A version of this article appears in print on August 10, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.