KATHMANDU, April 27: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the distribution of citizenship by descent to the offspring of those who were given citizenship by birth under a special one-time decision taken some 12 years ago.
Issuing the stay order, a division bench of Chief Justice Cholendra SJB Rana and Justice Purushottam Bhandari stated that the offspring of those holding doubtful citizenship certificates should not obtain citizenship by descent on the strength of a previous order of the Supreme Court.
The apex court order stays the citizenship certificate distribution process for the offspring of those who received their citizenship certificates as per the recommendation of the Jitendra Narayan Dev-led citizenship distribution panel. It also suspends citizenship certificate distribution on the basis of the circular issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) on April 4 to all 77 districts.
Following hearings conducted on Friday, the apex court also directed the government to submit details on the citizenship certificates distributed under the recommendation of the Dev panel. It is going to scrutinize the issue as was sought by a single bench of Justice Prakash Man Singh Raut. Coincidentally, the stay order supersedes a ruling handed down by Justices Hari Krishna Karki and Bam Kumar Shrestha on April 16 giving the go-ahead to the government with the distribution of citizenship certificates as per a MoHA circular.
On April 16, the apex court had issued a go ahead to the government to issue citizenship by descent to the offspring of those who were given citizenship by birth under the special one-time decision of some 12 years ago.
Distribution of citizenship to the offspring of those possessing citizenship by birth has been stalled since November 2008 as such citizenship was distributed under the “special decision” of the government taken in 2006.
The government at the time provided citizenship by birth to those born in the territory of Nepal and living within the country once they were recommended for citizenship by any three Nepali citizens.
Altogether 190,726 individuals had obtained citizenship by birth under the special decision, according to records maintained at MoHA. At that time, the government had said that the children of those obtaining citizenship by birth should apply for their own citizenship within the next two years.
Justice Raut’s bench, however, had asked the government authorities to submit complete details of the offspring of those whose citizenships were scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2001.
The apex court had also asked the authorities to clarify how many had obtained such controversial citizenship certificates after the apex court order and also the exact number of citizenships issued as per the Dev panel recommendations.