KATHMANDU, Sept 14: With the government’s backing, a proposal of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) to provision a seven-year waiting period for naturalization of a foreign woman marrying a Nepali man, the State Affairs Committee (SAC) of the parliament is set to finalize the Citizenship Amendment Bill by including the provision.
Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa on Friday said that the government also supports the proposed seven-year threshold for naturalization of a foreign bride. “Among various proposals discussed in the committee, one has proposed a seven-year threshold for naturalization of a foreign woman marrying a Nepali man. If the committee agrees to the threshold, the government will accept the decision,” said Thapa in the committee.
The government had earlier proposed conferring Nepali citizenship to foreign brides immediately after she starts the process to relinquish her foreign citizenship. This is similar to the existing provision on naturalization for foreign brides. But most of the lawmakers from the ruling party had stressed that Nepal needs to introduce a seven-year threshold just like in India, keeping in view the open border and the practice of cross-border marriages.
On Thursday lawmakers from the opposition parties had sought the government’s position on the seven-year threshold after most of the ruling lawmakers pushed for the threshold in the bill.
Although some lawmakers from the opposition Nepali Congress (NC) had seconded the proposal during recent deliberations in the committee, on Friday they said they want some time to discuss the proposal in the party. The ruling party has majority in the committee and can finalize the bill any time. Nepali Congress (NC) lawmaker Dilendra Badu on Friday said they need some time to discuss the seven-year threshold in the party. “Lets finalize the bill after we discuss the issue in the party and come up with a decision,” said Badu.
Lawmakers from the Madhes-based political parties, however, are against the provision of any threshold. They claim that a threshold will make life difficult for foreign brides as it will be difficult for them to get jobs, open bank accounts and travel outside the country in lack of citizenship certificate.
Ram Sahaya Yadav of Samajbadi Party Nepal opposing the proposed threshold said, “I still prefer the provision in the original bill to allow a foreign woman to acquire citizenship immediately after her marriage with a Nepali man. If we need to change the existing provision on the citizenship law then we need to study the possible repercussions before arriving at a decision,” said Yadav.
Ruling NCP lawmakers have proposed temporary identity cards for foreign brides for the threshold period. Raj Kishor Yadav of Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) stressed finalizing the bill through consensus after consulting top leaders.
Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Rekha Sharma insisted on finalizing the bill without any delay through vote if consensus is not possible. “Let’s forge consensus on the agreed issues and decide the contentious issues through vote. We have already spent long time on the bill,” said Sharma. The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for Saturday.
Except for the provision of citizenship through marriage the SAC has finalized most of the provisions including the citizenship for non-resident Nepalis, rights of such citizens, punishments for citizenship related offences and other issues. The provision for naturalization of a foreign groom marrying a Nepali woman is similar to the existing law -- the foreign groom has to reside in Nepal for 15 years for naturalization.
The parliamentary committee has revised the bill proposing stern punishments for citizenship-related offences.
As the government is planning to prorogue the parliament next week, the citizenship bill is unlikely to pass in the ongoing session.