November 2, 2018 07:20 AM NPT
By: Ashok Dahal
Demand goes against constitutional spirit: Nembang
KATHMANDU, Nov 2: Going against the spirit of the constitution, some lawmakers have registered amendment proposals to the Citizenship Act, demanding not to bar Non-Resident Nepalis from political rights.
Ruling NCP lawmakers have demanded removal of a provision barring political rights from a government-registered bill which proposes social, cultural and economic rights for NRNs. Main opposition party Nepali Congress (NC) lawmaker Gagan Thapa, in his amendment proposal, also demanded equal rights for NRNs on par with Nepali citizens, but he is silent about political rights.
The government registered the Bill to Amend the Nepal Citizenship Act in parliament on August 7 in a bid to revise the existing Citizenship Act in line with the spirit of the new constitution. The bill proposes in Section 7 (A, 1) that ‘a person who has acquired the citizenship of a foreign country, has resided in a country other than a member state of the SAARC, and who or whose father or mother, grandfather or grandmother was previously a citizen of Nepal by descent or birth but subsequently acquired the citizenship of the foreign country that such person may acquire the non-resident citizenship of Nepal to enjoy economic, social and cultural rights except political rights’.
Four lawmakers of the NCP – Krishna Bhakta Pokhrel, Ganesh Pahadi, Indu Kumari Sharma and Kumari Tulsi Thapa – have demanded removal of the provision in the bill barring NRNs from political rights.
However, lawmaker Kumari Tulsi Thapa said, “I don’t think we had demanded removal of the bar against political rights for NRNs. I forget the content of amendment proposal.”
Former speaker and chairperson of the then constituent assembly Subas Nembang said demanding political rights for NRNs is against the spirit of the constitution. “Though the constitution doesn’t contain wording barring NRNs from political rights, it has clearly stated that such citizens can only enjoy economic, social and cultural rights. Demand for political rights is against the spirit of the constitution,” Nembang said.
Some lawmakers had withdrawn their names from the list of seconders to the amendment proposal, raising questions about the influence of NRN leaders on lawmaking. NRN chapters abroad frequently sponsor visits by lawmakers and party leaders. Some lawmakers are found to have erased their names from the amendment registration book sent to the State Affairs Committee (SAC) of parliament for further discussions.
Also, NC leader Gagan Thapa has demanded rights to NRNs equal to what other Nepalis are entitled to exercise, adding a clarification section to the bill. His proposal for ‘economic, social and cultural rights means rights equal to other Nepali citizens except the rights barred by the constitution’.
The lawmakers have also demanded NRN citizenship to the children of NRN citizens and the granting of such citizenship through Nepali diplomatic missions abroad as well as the district offices and the ministry concerned.
Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) lawmakers Pramod Sah and Ekwal Miya have demanded NRN citizenship for those having citizenship of SAARC countries, which is against Article 14 of the constitution.