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Controversy Around Nepal’s Citizenship Law

  • 26 Sep 2022
  • 4 min read

Why in News?

Recently, the president of Nepal sent back the bill to amend the Citizenship Act, 2006 to the lower house of the Nepal Parliament for reconsideration.

What's the Issue About?

  • About:
    • After the fall of the monarchy and the transition of Nepal into democracy in 2006, there was the emergence of the multiparty system followed by the adoption of a constitution in 2015.
      • Due to this, all-Nepalese citizens born before the adoption of constitution got naturalised citizenship.
      • But their children remained without citizenship as that was to be guided by a federal law that has not yet been framed.
        • The recent amendment is expected to pave the way to citizenship for many stateless youths and their parents.
  • Issues in the Act:
    • Against Gender Justice:
      • It goes against established parameters of gender justice, according to a new amendment, a person born to a father or a mother with Nepalese citizenship can get citizenship by descent.
      • Also, a person who is born to a Nepalese mother (who has lived in the country) and an unidentified father will also get citizenship by descent.
        • But this part seems humiliating to the mother because her husband has to declare his unknown in order for the child to apply for citizenship.
        • Further, in the case of a Nepali father, no such declaration is required.
    • Contradictory in Nature:
      • If a child born to a Nepalese mother and a father holding foreign citizenship can get naturalised citizenship.
        • This places a condition of permanent residency on the mother (and the child) which will determine the grant of citizenship for the child.
    • Flawed nature of Law:
      • If a person who is born to a Nepalese mother and an unidentified father can be granted citizenship by descent, in case the unidentified father turns out to be a foreigner, the citizenship by descent would be converted to naturalised citizenship.

What was the Need to bring this Amendment?

  • The Nepalese men, particularly from the Terai region, continue to marry women from northern India, so this could affect their Nepali Identity.
    • "Beti-Roti" (Nepalese men marrying Indian women) issue, many women could not become citizens of Nepal as they were subjected to the infamous seven-year cooling-off period before they could apply for citizenship in Nepal.
      • As such women were stateless, and children of such families were also often found to be without Nepalese citizenship.
      • That’s why the new amendments have done away with the cooling-off period for these stateless women.
      • This will benefit the children of such families where the mother and children remained stateless for years

Source: TH

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