The House of Representatives (HoR) has passed the Citizenship Bill sent back by President Bidya Devi Bhandari for reconsideration as it is on Thursday.
Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand presented the bill for reconsideration Thursday. Lawmakers then discussed on the bill presented for reconsideration and Minister Khand responded to questions raised by the lawmakers.
The bill was then put to vote and endorsed by a majority of lawmakers. Among the 195 lawmakers present in the HoR on Thursday, 135 voted in favor of passing the bill while 60 voted against it.
The government had the option of sending the bill to the committee for amendment and some lawmakers even from the ruling coalition publicly stated that the bill sent back by the president should be amended.
The main opposition CPN-UML had said that it would be appropriate to reconsider the bill sent back by President Bidya Devi Bhandari. It had called for forging a national consensus on the bill or sending it to the State Affairs Committee of the HoR for reconsideration.
But the coalition had already decided to not amend the bill and pass it as it is, and then send it to the president for authentication.
The main opposition had then demanded voting on the bill, with more than 28 of its lawmakers demanding that the bill be put to vote.
Lawmakers were not allowed to register amendment proposal on the bill based on the precedent set when the Passport Bill was similarly sent back by the president a few years back.
The president is constitutionally required to authenticate any bill that is resubmitted by the House after sending it back to the House for reconsideration once.
President Bhandari on Sunday sent back the Citizenship Bill sent to her for authentication after being passed by both the HoR and the National Assembly.
Spokesperson at the President's Office Sagar Acharya issuing a statement on Sunday stated that President Bhandari has sent back the bill to the HoR for reconsideration as per Article 113(3) of the Constitution.
"Except in the case of a Finance Bill, if the President is satisfied that reconsideration is necessary on a bill, the Bill may be sent back to the House where it originated with necessary information within 15 days of receiving the Bill," 113(3) of the Constitution says about exception to mandatory certification of bills sent to the president.
"The Bill presented to the President for certification according to this Article, shall be certified within 15 days, and both the Houses shall be informed about that as early as possible," 113(2) of the Constitution says about authentication of bills.
President Bhandari sent back the Citizenship Bill two days before expiry of the 15-day deadline.
President Bhandari has mainly raised two issues while sending the bill back, according to a Sheetal Niwas source. She has mentioned that the bill is silent about the provision of naturalized citizenship through marriage as per Article 11(6) of the Constitution.
"If a foreign woman married to a Nepali citizen so wishes, she may acquire naturalized citizenship of Nepal as provided for in a Federal law," states Article 11(6) of the Constitution. President Bhandari has pointed that the Constitution clearly says federal law but the bill passed by the federal parliament does not have that provision.
She has also raised question about the provision requiring self-declaration by woman to provide citizenship to her children.
She has also drew the House's attention to other issues but has mainly asked the House to reconsider the two issues, according to the source.
The bill does not propose any restrictions on foreigners marrying Nepali citizens while acquiring naturalized citizenship. The main opposition CPN-UML, to which Bhandari was affiliated before becoming president, has been protesting removal of the provision in the report submitted by the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the HoR that required foreigners marrying Nepali citizens to wait for seven years to get naturalized citizenship.
The bill passed by the federal parliament also has a provision to grant citizenship by descent to the children of those who received citizenship by birth through a one-time arrangement after the Janaandolan II in 2006.
Citizenship by birth was granted to persons born in Nepal before mid-April 1990, and having permanent domicile and been continuously resident in Nepal throughout their life through the one-time arrangement.
The passed bill also allows citizenship to a person only through the name of mother but has put four conditions for that. The child should be born in Nepal, should be residing in Nepal, father should be unidentified and the person should make self-declaration that the father has not been identified for that.
The person taking the citizenship certificate can choose to take the surname and address of either the father or mother. The bill has also paved the way for non-resident citizenship to anyone living outside the SAARC countries if there is proof that the person's father/mother or grandfather/grandmother is/was a Nepali citizen.
President Bhandari earlier had authenticated the ordinance, sent by the then prime minister KP Sharma Oli after dissolving the House, that included similar provisions.