Nepal President Bhandari refuses to sign Citizenship Amendment Bill
Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari

Kathmandu: The House of Representatives in Nepal on Thursday endorsed the country’s first Citizenship Amendment Bill sent back by President Bidya Devi Bhandari for reconsideration.

During a voting held in Parliament, a total of 135 voted in favour of endorsing the Amendment Bill in its current form, while 60 lawmakers belonging to the main Opposition party, CPN-UML, voted against the Amendment Bill. Only 195 lawmakers were present in the House meeting on Thursday.

The Bill was endorsed as it is, without making any changes to the one sent earlier to the President for authentication. Now, it will again be forwarded to the President for authentication.

President Bhandari on Sunday returned the Bill to the House of Representatives for reconsideration, a month after it was passed in Parliament.

The Bill was presented to the President for authentication after being endorsed by the House of Representatives and the National Assembly.

The Bill has been endorsed as it is, without making any changes to the one sent earlier to the President for authentication. Now, it will again be forwarded to the President for authentication.

The Bill was to amend the Nepal Citizenship Act 2063 BS. It has sparked controversy after lawmakers of the main opposition CPN-UML raised questions on some of its provisions including granting citizenship certificates immediately to foreign women married to Nepali citizens.

Nepal’s Parliament on July 14 passed the bill, which had been under discussion for more than two years as political parties failed to forge a consensus on it.

The Bill has been under discussion in the House of Representatives since 2020, but it failed to be endorsed due to differences among the political parties over certain provisions, namely the seven-year waiting period for obtaining naturalised citizenship for foreign women married to Nepali men.

All eligible Nepalis born before September 20, 2015, the day when the Constitution of Nepal was promulgated, were granted naturalised citizenship. However, their children haven’t got citizenship in the absence of a law as the Constitution said the provision to grant them citizenship would be guided by federal law, it said. The federal law hasn’t been prepared even seven years after the promulgation of the statute.

In 2018, the then KP Sharma Oli government registered the bill at the Parliament Secretariat.

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