Citizenship Bill passed by the upper house
Kathmandu: The Citizenship Bill was approved by the National Assembly today, and when President Bidhya Devi Bhandari signs it into law, it will take effect. The bill was brought to the Upper House after the House of Representatives passed it on July 23 through a fast-track mechanism.
The bill will make it possible for children of citizens by birth of Nepal to become citizens. Additionally, it will make it possible for children whose fathers are unknown to achieve citizenship by descent. Nepalis who don’t live in the country can also become citizens and exercise their social, economic, and cultural rights, but not their political rights.
Home Minister Balkrishna Khand told the House that if the citizenship bill was stalled, thousands of eligible citizens, particularly the children of citizens by birth, would continue to suffer. He said eligible citizens had not been able to open a bank account, apply for government jobs, start business, or buy even a SIM card in the absence of citizenship certificates.
Stating that differences between parties over seven-year waiting period for matrimonial naturalization stalled the bill, the minister said the government brought the bill incorporating provisions of consensus. He said the government would continue to forge consensus on provisions related to matrimonial naturalization even after the passage of the current citizenship bill.
Khand asserted that the bill would have sufficient safeguards to ensure that only true Nepalis would be granted citizenship with regard to children whose parents’ whereabouts are unknown. Foundlings, he said, would need to present birth records and letters of recommendation from their respective local authorities. In the event that they were raised by an orphanage or an individual, they must additionally present documentation to support their claim.
Following the home minister’s clarification in the House, some lawmakers, notably CPN (Unified Socialist) leader Beduram Bhusal and CPN-Maoist Centre lawmaker Gopi Bahadur Sarki Achhami, withdrew their amendment motion. While Khimlal Devkota dropped his other modifications, he did not withdraw his suggestion for a five-year waiting time before foreign women could become citizens through matrimony. Bimala Rai, a politician for the CPN-UML, refused to rescind her amendment proposal, arguing that a seven-year waiting period for marriage naturalization was acceptable.