Kathmandu, -The government today registered a bill in the Parliament seeking to amend the Citizenship Act. The bill proposes to grant citizenship certificates to children of citizens by birth and non-resident Nepalis residing in countries other than SAARC countries.
The existing Citizenship Act also stipulates that a child born to a Nepali mother whose father is unknown will be entitled to citizenship by descent. But the citizenship by the descent of the child who was born to a Nepali mother will be converted to naturalised citizenship if it is found that his/her father is a foreign national and the child has not obtained citizenship of the foreign country on the basis of his/her father’s nationality.
As far as non-resident Nepalis are concerned, the bill proposes that they will be given Nepali citizenship allowing them to enjoy economic, social and cultural rights, but not political rights.
The bill also seeks to simplify citizenship application process by proposing to remove the proviso of Section 8 of the Citizenship Act which requires the applicants to submit copies of citizenships of their relatives from three generations of mother or father’s side.
An applicant who wants to seek citizenship on the basis of mother’s nationality will have to submit an affidavit stating that s/he does not know who her/his father is. Similarly, the mother can also submit an affidavit saying she does not know the identity of her child’s father.
Advocate General of Province 2 Dipendra Jha said the new bill would enable children of citizens by birth, who have been waiting for the last three years, to obtain their citizenship certificates. “The chief district officers denied children of citizens by birth their citizenship in the last three years simply because a federal law was not enacted and this bill aims to address that problem. Although it was long overdue, it is, however, a welcome step,” he said.
He added that he would expect the Parliament to pass the bill through a fast-track process to enable children of citizens by birth who have just passed Plus Two exams, to enrol for higher studies. If the Parliament takes longer to pass the bill, such students might not be able to enrol in colleges, he argued.
“I know there are many children of citizens by birth who had to move courts to get enrolment in colleges, to make other identity documents, but there are others who did not get minimum relief because they did not go to courts,” he said.
Jha said citizenship issues were related to the enjoyment of fundamental rights ensured by the constitution and hence the bill should be passed immediately. Recently the Province 2 government had issued letters to the chief district administration offices of the province telling them to grant citizenship to children of citizens by birth, but the CDOs declined to comply with the order in the absence of a federal law.
News taken from The Himalayantimes Newspaper