Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Wednesday said she did not authenticate the Citizenship Amendment Bill as it was against the interest of the true citizens of the country.
Bhandari in September refused to sign within the stipulated deadline the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was endorsed twice by both the houses of Parliament, a move described by constitutional experts as a serious blow to the Constitution.
The Bill that defines the entitlement for Citizenship based on marital grounds and ensures non-voting Citizenship to non-resident Nepalis living in non-SAARC countries has come under criticism from some quarters of the society, citing it did not prevent foreign women marrying Nepali men from getting citizenship easily.
In a written reply sent to the Supreme Court on Wednesday by the secretary at the President’s office, it was mentioned that the President did not authenticate the Citizenship Amendment Bill as it was against the interest of the true citizens of Nepal.
“The Bill was against national interest as well as the interest of the Nepalese citizens," said the written submission sent by the President’s office to the Supreme Court.
After President Bhandari returned back twice the First Amendment to Citizenship Bill without authenticating it even after it was endorsed by both the House of Representatives (Lower House) and the National Assembly (Upper House) the Supreme Court had issued Show Cause Notice in response to a writ petition in the name of the President’s Office regarding the Citizenship Bill.
One of the clauses of the Bill has a provision that any foreign national marrying Nepali man can immediately apply for naturalised citizenship of Nepal, which has come under criticism from some political quarters, including main opposition CPN-UML.
Senior advocate and constitutional expert Dinesh Tripathi, however, commenting on the matter said that “this is against the spirit and nature of the constriction." Since the president is ceremonial he or she cannot hold the bill which was passed twice by both the Houses of the Parliament, he argued.
According to the President’s Office, Bhandari’s move is in line with the Constitution.
“The President has been acting in line with the Constitution,” said Lalbabu Yadav, political affairs adviser to the President had said in September when the bill did not get the president’s assent.
“The bill has violated different constitutional provisions and the President has the responsibility to safeguard it,” he said.
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