Bill proposes including iris data on national ID card

Published On: August 16, 2019 05:30 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

About 117,000 cards already distributed will need updating

KATHMANDU, Aug 16: The State Affairs Committee of the parliament has proposed including iris data of citizens in the biometric information in the national identity card although the government has already distributed such cards to nearly 117,000 citizens.

Revising the Bill to Provision National Identity Card and Registration tabled by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the parliamentary committee has included a provision making it mandatory to include iris information of the card bearer in the National ID card.

Earlier, the government had proposed including the mugshot, fingerprints of all ten fingers and signature of the card bearer in the National ID Card. The SAC endorsed the bill on Wednesday with various major revisions after deliberations of over six months in the committee.

The government through a cabinet decision started distributing the national ID cards from Panchthar district in November 2018 with fanfare but tabled the legislation to legalize the card distribution only in January 2019. The bill will become law only after it is endorsed by both houses of parliament and authentication by the president.

According to the National ID Management Center at the Home Ministry, about 117,000 cards have been distributed so far including 110,000 in Panchthar district and 7,000 in Singha Durbar to civil servants. If the revised provision is endorsed by both houses of parliament, the government will have to scan the irises of the card bearers again and include the information on the chip in the ID cards.

“The government should update the biometric information by adding the iris of the bearers on the National ID cards that have been already distributed,” Chairperson of the SAC, Shashi Shrestha, told Republica. “We decided to add iris in the biometric information because it is a necessary component on such cards.”

Lawmakers had lobbied for adding iris information on the card during deliberations at the parliamentary committee as well.

As the government is planning to distribute such cards in Chitwan district in the second phase after concluding in Panchthar, the bill states that card distribution will be started after issuing a notice in the Nepal Gazette.

The provisions revised by the parliamentary panel propose allowing foreigners also to obtain National ID cards after residing in Nepal for a certain period. The bill however does not mention how long will a foreigner have to reside in Nepal to be eligible for a national ID card. Similarly the parliamentary committee has also proposed providing separate national ID cards to non-resident Nepali citizens. The bill has proposed that anyone found guilty of forging national ID card will face 10 years jail.

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