KATHMANDU, March 22: Following divisions among lawmakers in the State Affairs Committee (SAC) of parliament over whether to grant citizenship to foreign women marrying Nepali men right after marriage or after a certain period, the committee has formed a sub-committee to seek a political consensus on the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
After key lawmakers of the ruling party sought a threshold period for granting Nepali citizenship to foreign women marrying Nepali men and lawmakers from the opposition and various parties representing the Tarai-Madhes region stood against this, the committee failed to find consensus on the issue.
The government has proposed providing citizenship to foreign women marrying Nepali men immediately after her marriage as in the original bill. The original bill registered at parliament in August has stated that foreign women can apply for Nepali citizenship along with evidence of marriage with a Nepali man and proof of initiating the process for renouncing their original citizenship .
The constitution has stated that foreign women shall acquire Nepali citizenship as per federal law.
Lawmakers had registered amendments to the bill proposing a threshold of up to seven years and demanding equal citizenship provisions for both males and females marrying Nepali citizens.
“We should have equal provisions on acquiring citizenship for both our daughters and daughters-in-law. If our daughters have to wait for seven years to acquire citizenship in India once they marry an Indian man why should we provide citizenship to daughters-in-law immediately after marriage to a Nepali?” asked NCP’s Pampha Bhusal.
Claiming that more Nepali women marry Indian nationals compared to Indian women marrying Nepali men, Nawaraj Silwal of NCP also insisted on equal provisions with India on marital naturalized citizenship.
Jhapat Rawal of the same party demanded revision of the bill with a provision enabling foreign women to get Nepali citizenship only after seven years, as is the provision under Indian citizenship law.
On the other side, Dilendra Prasad Badu and Amresh Singh of main opposition Nepali Congress (NC), Ram Sahaya Yadav of Federal Socialist Forum Nepal and Brijesh Gupta of NCP demanded continuation of provision proposed in the original bill.
Lawmakers representing the southern districts have claimed that any provision of a threshold period would leave many women in the region citizenship-less. “India grants Aadhar cards and voter identity cards to foreign women after marriage with their nationals immediately after marriage and these ensure almost equal rights as citizenship,” said Singh of NC.
They have claimed that the citizenship certificate is not so important after getting the Aadhar card and voter identity cards.
The sub-committee has been asked to submit its report in two weeks after consultations with top political leaders of major political parties. With the formation of the sub-committee the chances of the bill being endorsed from the current parliamentary session have become slim.
Bijay Subba, Yashoda Subedi, Mina Pandey, Raj Kishor Yadav, Ram Sahaya Yadav, Devendra Raj Kandel, Nawa Raj Silwal, Laxmi Chaudhary and Prem Suwal are members of the sub-committee.