KATHMANDU, Feb 5: Parliament's State Affairs Committee (SAC) has agreed to a provision that Non-Resident Nepalis (NRN) must come to Nepal to apply for NRN citizenship .
Finalizing most of the issues of the much debated Citizenship Amendment Bill, the committee members have agreed to amend the original bill and provision that applications for NRN citizenship shall be filed at the offices concerned under the Home Ministry . The original bill registered by the government had proposed that applications for such citizenship certificates should be registered at the Home Ministry in Kathmandu.
Registering an amendment to the bill, ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmakers had proposed providing NRN citizenships through Nepali missions abroad also. But the SAC rejected the amendment through consensus.
The Constitution of Nepal promulgated in 2015 has envisioned NRN citizenship for the Nepali diaspora for up to three generations of Nepalis living outside the SAARC region. “After rounds of deliberations the committee agreed to a provision in the bill that NRN citizenship certificates shall be distributed from the district offices concerned within the country,” said NCP lawmaker Jhapad Rawal.
The committee has, however, failed to forge consensus on whether knowledge of the Nepali language should be made mandatory for those applying for NRN citizenship .
Similarly, the SAC has agreed to remove a proposed provision from the original bill for granting citizenship after verification by three individuals living in the same ward if the applicant fails to produce the necessary documents. The committee has proposed that the ward office shall verify individuals for citizenship in the absence of necessary documents, in line with an amendment proposal of NCP lawmaker Bijay Subba.
The committee has also provisioned that people can face both a jail sentence of three months and a Rs 10,000 fine for not verifying whether someone is or is not a family member for citizenship purposes. The original bill had proposed either a fine or jail term.
“The provisions on verification by the ward office and jail sentence for family members not appearing for verification is expected to help single women who were abandoned by their husbands or have been widowed ,” said SAC member Subba.
The SAC has also agreed to a provision in the bill allowing Dalits to write their caste as per their will in their citizenship. This option was opened earlier through a directive from the Home Ministry.
But the committee has failed at consensus on whether the identity of the father should be mentioned or not while applying for citizenship. The committee has decided to forward unsettled issues to the top political leadership for consensus, said committee members.