If you are unwilling to entertain the enumerator even after repeated reminders or have not shown any eagerness to complete the census questionnaire, beware. You may have to shell out Rs1,000 as penalty for not cooperating with census officers.
Section 8 of the Census Act, 1948, under which the Census 2011 is being conducted across India, makes residents liable to answer questions asked by the census enumerators.
It states: “Every person to whom any question is asked, shall be legally bound to answer such question to the best of his knowledge or belief.”
“Residents should cooperate with the enumerators in the census work, by answering all questions. Otherwise, there is also provision of registering FIR against those who don’t co-operate in the census work under section 11 of the Census Act. If proven guilty, the resident will be penalised,” said Ranjit Singh Deol, director of census operations.
A long procedure has to be followed to penalise a citizen. As per the law, the complaint has to be made by the director of census operations or any officer authorised by him.
“We have delegated the power to register a complaint to the principal census officer, that is the municipal commissioner of the respective city, census in-charge officer, also know as the assistant municipal commissioner or the ward officer and the district collectors,” said Deol.
He added, “All the information given by residents during the headcount survey will be confidential and will be used only for social development causes. So, residents should co-operate with the enumerators by providing the information asked for.”
However, authorities seldom use this stringent provision. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) city census officer Dr Girish Ambe said, “Enumerators have been given the power to lodge an FIR. However, we avoid registering the complaint. Our enumerators patiently visit the resident twice or thrice. If the house is locked, we leave a reminder slip, but it would be nice if the residents cooperate.”
Enumerators, on the other hand, are unaware of any such provision. An enumerator from Vikhroli, requesting anonymity, said: “We have not been informed about this Act, particularly about penalising residents. The way civic, government and other staff have been compelled to work for the census, even residents should be obliged to cooperate.”