Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari denied authenticating the citizenship Bill despite the constitutionally bounded provision to ratify it within 15 days after it has been re-approved by both houses.
President’s political advisor Lalbabu Yadav confirmed that Bhandari has refused to authenticate the bill “in order to safeguard the constitution.”
“It is stated in Article 61(4) that the main duty of the president shall be to abide by and protect the Constitution. This means protecting all articles of the Constitution. One cannot say by only looking at Article 113 that the president did not fulfil her constitutional responsibility,” Yadav claimed.
However, Article 113(2) of the Constitution which bears the provisions about the authentication of bills states, “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.”
As per the provision, the president is constitutionally bounded to authenticate any bill that is resubmitted by the House after sending it back to the House for reconsideration once.
Tuesday past midnight was the deadline for the president to authenticate the bill which has been missed, leading the nation into a situation of a constitutional crisis.
Defending the act of the President, the Political advisor further said, “It (the Bill) does not fully comply with the provisions in Part-2 of the Constitution, discriminates against women, and also does not make provision of single federal citizenship with provincial identity.”
President Bhandari on August 14 returned the Citizenship Bill, which was sent to her for authentication after being passed by both the House of Representatives (HoR) and the National Assembly. She had sent a seven-point message to inform the federal parliament and for deliberation, and another eight-point message to draw attention.
A spokesperson at the President’s Office, Sagar Acharya, issued a statement and said 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 the necessary information within 15 days of receiving the Bill,” Article 113(3) of the Constitution says about an exception to mandatory certification of bills sent to the president.
President Bhandari had mainly raised two issues while sending the bill back. She had mentioned that the bill was 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 had pointed out that the Constitution clearly says federal law but the bill passed by the national parliament did not have that provision.
While returning the bill, President Bhandari also questioned the provision requiring self-declaration by a woman to provide citizenship to her children. She also drew House’s attention to other issues but had mainly asked the House to reconsider the two issues.
There is a provision in the bill that ‘In the case of a person who was born in Nepal to a Nepali citizen mother and resides in Nepal and whose father has not been identified, he and his mother must make a self-declaration that his father could not be identified’.
But at the time of filing the application, if the mother of such a person has died or is not mentally stable, the law also provides that the applicant must make a self-declaration with evidence. The word ‘self-declaration’ has been kept in other sections of the Act.
Similarly, President Bhandari also discussed the issue of naturalized citizenship. She discussed these and other questions focusing on whether naturalized citizenship is a good practice in other countries or not. How is it for our country? Is this practice good or not?
The president also discussed whether or not federal laws are needed for citizenship as mentioned in the constitution.
In Article 11 of the Constitution, there is a provision regarding the recognition of citizenship of Nepal. Article 113 of the Constitution mentions the subject of Bill Verification and Article 114 of the Ordinance.
The Bill sent by the Council of Ministers cannot be stopped, examined and studied by the President. Only parliament can test it, and the constitution provides that the bill sent for certification can be returned with a message that the president is not satisfied. (ANI)