NID services going to Home from EC
All services relating to National Identity (NID) cards are set to be shifted from the Election Commission to the home ministry.
The Prime Minister's Office has instructed the cabinet division to take necessary steps to shift NID-related services to the Security Services Division under the home ministry.
Security Services Division Secretary Mokabbir Hossain and Election Commission Secretary Humayun Kabir Khandaker yesterday confirmed to The Daily Star that they have received the copy of the PMO letter issued on Monday.
"The PMO instructed the Cabinet Division regarding the matter. Many laws and rules will need to be changed and after that the responsibilities will be shifted to us," Mokabbir Hossain said yesterday.
Humayun Kabir said he received the copies of the letter on Tuesday afternoon. "We will review the matter soon."
About whether the EC was informed about the shift, Humayun said, "I was not aware of the matter before [receiving the letter]."
Currently, NID-related services are being provided under the Election Commission, which has developed the NID database containing information on 100 million citizens aged above 18.
The NID services include issuing secure national identity cards to citizens, administering all related activities, including maintaining a national citizen registration database and delivering identity verification services to qualified public and private organisations.
A full-fledged NID wing was established following the passage of the National Identity Registration Act 2010. Bangladesh launched NID cards with photographs in 2007-2008, as part of updating the voter list.
The PMO letter said that the issue of NID-related services was included in the responsibilities of the executive branch, so they can be vested to the Security Services Division in the light of the examples from different countries.
It said necessary amendments could be made to the National Identity Registration Act, 2010, by including the word "government" in place of "Election Commission".
Arrangements can be made to transfer the existing infrastructure and manpower of the services to the Security Services Division, the letter added.
The PMO's move came after the home ministry in July last year sent a proposal to the office saying all activities regarding NIDs should be handed over to the ministry, said cabinet division sources.
In a response, the PMO in August directed the cabinet division to submit a report with its views on the matter and a seven-member committee was formed in this regard
In November last yet, the cabinet division sent a letter to the PMO proposing the formation of separate authority under it that will provide NID-related services.
Home ministry officials said they sought the responsibilities of NID-related services as law enforcement agencies need to collect information from the NID authorities. They also need NID information for issuing passports.
Bangladesh Election Commission Officers Association in a memorandum submitted to Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda yesterday expressed concern about shifting the services from EC to home ministry.
They also demanded keeping NID services under the EC.
"It is logical that NID services are provided by the EC as the NID card is being prepared by taking inputs from the database of voter list," the memorandum said.
Preparing the voter list and NID cards are integrally related, which also saves public money.
NID cards are prepared in line with the voter list.
It is the EC's constitutional responsibility to prepare a flawless and accurate voter list in order to hold a free, fair and acceptable election.
"If the server of voter list was handed over to any other entity, EC activities can face questions," the memorandum said.