A team of CPN (Maoist Center) leaders led by chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal have met President Bidya Devi Bhandari at Sheetal Niwas on Wednesday.
She had summoned Maoist Center leaders for discussion on Wednesday afternoon.
According to Dahal’s secretariat, President Bhandari put forward her concerns regarding the Citizenship Bill during the meeting.
Dahal said that the president’s concern and their view regarding the bill were similar.
“The president’s concern and our view regarding naturalized citizenship through marriage are similar but national consensus could not be forged on this issue in parliament. So, there is no new provision on this issue in the bill. We have recorded our view regarding this in parliament,” said Dahal. “The government has also expressed commitment to bring a bill on this by forging national consensus. This bill has been brought to immediately end the situation of statelessness for descendants of citizens by birth.”
He added that the provisions in the bill were similar to the ones in the ordinance sent by the then prime minister KP Sharma Oli and authenticated by President Bhandari.
Dahal also said that it was unfortunate that the bill was being unnecessarily politicized.
President Bhandari has recently been holding discussions with leaders of different political parties on the Citizenship Bill she sent back to the House for reconsideration.
The president earlier discussed the bill with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba as well as leaders from Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Loktantrik Samajwadi Party.
The House of Representatives (HoR) passed the bill as it is on August 18 after the president returned it for consideration but the National Assembly has sent it to the Legislative Management Committee of the National Assembly.
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 August 14 returned 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 stated that President Bhandari had 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 raised mainly 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 a woman to provide citizenship to her children.
She has also drawn 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 which 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 had earlier authenticated the ordinance with similar provisions that was sent by the then prime minister KP Sharma Oli after dissolving the House.