President Paudel’s move to certify controversial citizenship amendment bill an insult to Parliament: UML

Published On: June 3, 2023 08:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Govt starts preparations to distribute citizenship certificates as per the new laws

KATHMANDU, June 3: The CPN-UML, the main opposition party, has taken strong exception to the move of President Ram Chandra Paudel to certify the controversial citizenship amendment bill, stating that it undermines the authority of the sovereign parliament.

The party's 22nd secretariat meeting held at party headquarters in Chyasal on Friday said that it is an insult to the parliament to certify the amendment bill  that was endorsed by the erstwhile parliament. 

UML Deputy General Secretary Pradeep Gyawali emphasized that certifying a bill that was previously approved by the parliament is unconstitutional. He argued that President Paudel's action goes against established norms and the spirit of the constitution.

"This move by President Paudel directly violates the constitution of Nepal and established legal procedures," Gyawali asserted, highlighting the party's concerns. The UML has also raised suspicions that the timing of the bill's certification, just hours before Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal's visit to India, indicates external interests at play rather than genuine internal motives.

In the midst of this controversy, the government has initiated preparations to implement the new laws pertaining to the distribution of citizenship certificates. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) has sent circulars to all 77 District Administration Offices (DAOs) outlining the procedures for distributing citizenship certificates in accordance with the recent amendments made to the Citizenship Act effective from coming Sunday.

"The circular issued to all District Administration Offices marks the beginning of distributing citizenship certificates in accordance with the new legal provisions," stated a member of Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha's Personal Secretariat. The distribution process is set to commence on Sunday.

The recently approved citizenship law, published in the Nepal Gazette on Wednesday, introduces significant changes to the previous legislation. Under the new law, children of citizens who acquired citizenship by birth, individuals who obtained citizenship solely through their mother, and children of Nepali women with foreign fathers will now be eligible to obtain Nepali citizenship certificates.

Furthermore, non-resident Nepalis will be able to acquire citizenship in Nepal, albeit without political rights. According to the new law, children of Nepali citizens who acquired citizenship by birth prior to September 20, 2015, can obtain citizenship certificates if they can demonstrate the citizenship of both their father and mother. However, they must be at least 16 years old to be eligible.

Additionally, in order for a woman to grant citizenship to her children in her name alone, she must meet four conditions outlined in the amended citizenship laws. These conditions include the child being born and settled in Nepal, the identity of the father being unknown, and a declaration confirming the unknown identity of the father.

The new bill also stipulates legal consequences if a father, previously unidentified at the time of the child's acquisition of citizenship, comes forward and claims paternity. If the father is proven to be the biological parent, the mother can face imprisonment ranging from one to three years, a fine of Rs 100,000 to Rs 300,000, or both.

Furthermore, the new law allows non-resident Nepalis to obtain Nepali citizenship certificates. Those who have acquired foreign citizenship while residing in a country outside the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries, after initially being a Nepali citizen by descent or birth, will be entitled to enjoy economic, social, and cultural rights. However, political rights will remain restricted for such individuals.

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