Major political parties commit to pass Citizenship Bill through parliament at the earliest

Published On: March 31, 2023 12:45 PM NPT By: Sajira Shrestha

KATHMANDU, March 31: Top leaders of various seven political parties in parliament have expressed commitment to pass the Citizenship Bill through parliament as soon as possible.

Addressing a program ‘Citizenship Bill: Viewpoints of Political Parties’ jointly organized by Media Advocacy Group and Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD), top leaders and chief whip of various political parties assured that no Nepali citizens shall be denied citizenship certificates. They also assured that the Citizenship Bill, which is currently in parliament, will be passed at the earliest date to pave the way to acquire citizenship certificate through mother's name.

Chief Whip of CPN (Unified Socialist) Prakash Jwala said that after the completion of cabinet expansion, the priority of his party will be to bring the Citizenship Bill in the parliament and pass it. “Many youths who are eligible to obtain citizenship on the basis of birth are still waiting for the state's recognition,” he said. “Me and my party will assure you that no Nepali citizens shall be denied citizenship certificates.”

Ranju Kumari Jha, lawmaker from Janata Samajwadi Party, highlighted the need to finalize the Citizenship Bill without any further delay. “Why is there discrimination in the criteria for transmission of citizenship from Nepali mothers to their children?” she questioned. “This discrimination has led to a high number of youths becoming stateless. Thus, I urge the concerned people including my own party to bring the Citizenship Bill in the parliament and pass it.”

According to the latest census, 1.7 million children are living with their single mothers in Nepal. The Constitution of Nepal and the Citizenship Act still provide that only the father can grant citizenship to the children. Thus, even in the case of a Nepali citizen mother, children born for various reasons are stranded as there is no clue where their father is.

Sabin Shrestha, an advocate at the Women's Law and Rights Forum, said. “Thus, in the upcoming Citizenship Amendment Bill, if the mother is a Nepali citizen, citizenship should be granted to her children even if their father is not known.”

Hitraj Pandey, Chief Whip of CPN (Maoist Center) argued that patriarchy is the main reason for this type of issue. “The patriarchy has played its role not only in citizenship issues but others as well. But regarding the citizenship issue, despite our constitution being clear about it, we have failed to implement it in practical life,” he said.

Chief Whip of Nepali Congress (NC) Ramesh Lekhak said that citizenship certificates are a sensitive issue. “A citizenship certificate is a very important and sensitive issue. It is intertwined with nationality, independence and territorial integrity,” he said. “My party commits to pass the Citizenship Bill as soon as possible. However, content and process are two major things here. I would like to request everyone to please read the content carefully and discuss it. This will make the process to pass the bill easier.”

Earlier, former President Bidya Devi Bhandari had refused to authenticate the bill even as both the houses of parliament ratified the bill.

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