Kathmandu, 6 September
Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota on Monday approved the Citizenship Bill passed by both houses of the federal parliament with a majority and sent it to the President’s office for final assent.
As President Vidya Devi Bhandari sent the same bill back to the House of Representatives suggesting an amendment that the Houses refused to consider, it is not yet clear what the President will do next.
President Bhandari apparently does not want this as he sent back the Citizenship Bill with a 15-point suggestion for amendment. So far constitutionallyHe has no option but to clear the bill the second time he is sent.
There is speculation that the President may resign or seek the Supreme Court’s opinion, but constitutional experts are divided over the availability of such options.
The second amendment to the Citizenship Act was done with an aim to address the concerns of Madhesh-centric parties and the NRI. However, it came into controversy citing the Citizenship Bill that does not prevent foreign women marrying Nepali men from obtaining citizenship easily.
Self-proclaimed nationalist activists have expressed concern that loose citizenship provisions in Nepal could allow dominating India to gradually push its citizens into Nepal and retain its control over the smaller counties.
As a result, President Vidya Devi Bhandari returned the Citizenship Bill to Parliament, suggesting reconsideration, finding herself in conflict with the executive.