An image of an uncertified document is doing the rounds on WhatsApp. The document urges people to withdraw money from their bank accounts before March 31, 2020. According to the claim, if an account holder fails to submit the National Population Register (NPR) document, their account will get blocked. “प्रत्येक व्यक्ति को सूचित किया जाता है की आने वाली “31 मार्च 2020” से पहले पहले आपने पैसे सभी बैंक से निकल लें “01 अप्रैल 2020” में “NPR” की डॉक्यूमेंट बैंक में मांगे जाएंगे जिस के पास डॉक्यूमेंट नहीं होगा उसका का अकाउंट ब्लॉक कर दिया जाएगा इस सुचना को ज्यादा से ज्यादा लोगों को शेयर करे जय हिन्द,” reads the document.
Alt News has received several requests on its official app to fact-check this claim.
Alt News found that there is no document available on the website of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which talks about blocking accounts that fail to submit “a letter issued by NPR”. However, we found a document related to Know Your Customer (KYC) on the RBI website. The document (Master Direction – Know Your Customer (KYC) Direction, 2016) reflects the original date as February 25, 2016, and the last update was made on January 9, 2020. In the document, Officially Valid Documents (OVD) required for the KYC process are specified. It includes that “a letter issued by the National Population Register containing details of name and address” will also be considered as an OVD.
In a statement to Boomlive, an RBI spokesperson dismissed the viral message and clarified that the information has no basis.
It may be noted that The Hindu’s Business Line reported on January 14, 2020, that a letter from the NPR is “now among” the OVDs. However, Alt News found a copy of the same document, updated on July 12, 2018, that referred to a letter issued by the NPR as an OVD.
“National Population Register” was inserted as a document valid for KYC in July 2015 when the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act was amended by a notification from the Ministry of Finance in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India.
Importantly, the “letter issued by NPR” containing details of name and address is an optional document for the KYC process just like other documents such as passport, voter ID and driving licence. It is also important to note that the ‘Customer Due Diligence (CDD) procedure for individuals’ section, states, “an equivalent e-document of any OVD, the RE shall verify the digital signature as per the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000″. Hence, it is certain that “a letter issued by NPR” is one of the OVDs.
In a response to a tweet by a customer asking for an explanation on the addition of the “letter issued by NPR” as a document for KYC, SBI clarified, “NPR is one of the officially valid documents as approved by RBI that may be submitted for KYC update in your bank account.”
However, according to a report, many banks have not yet added NPR letter to the list of valid KYC documents. Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior official of Bank of Baroda said that they haven’t added it as “it doesn’t make sense in adding something that doesn’t exist.”
What is the NPR and the letter issued by NPR? (according to government documents)
According to the Census of India website, NPR was collected “in 2010 along with the house listing phase of Census of India 2011”. An archived version of the website on December 18, 2014, stated, “The National Population Register (NPR) is a Register of usual residents of the country.”
The document said that it is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR. “A usual resident is defined for the purposes of the NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.”
While some banks are considering ‘a letter issued by NPR’ as the official document for KYC, there is no clarity on what is a letter from the NPR and how one obtains it. The FAQ for NPR 2010 doesn’t mention about any ‘letter’. Albeit, it refers to an acknowledgement slip given after individual details are collected by door-to-door enumerators. According to the FAQ, these slips were later to be carried to the enrolment camps for completing the process.
A baseless claim is viral on social media that if a bank account holder fails to submit an “NPR document” his/her account will be blocked. RBI has not issued any such notification. As stated above, a “letter issued by NPR” is an optional document that has been made valid for the KYC process by some banks. However, it is unclear what exactly is “the letter issued by NPR”.