Kathmandu, June 20
The Secretariat meeting of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) today decided to make foreign women married to Nepali men eligible for naturalised citizenship on the basis of matrimonial relations only after seven years.
The main opposition Nepali Congress and the Janata Samajwadi Party-Nepal, however, are in favour of allowing the existing provision that allows foreign women married to Nepali men obtain naturalised citizenship the moment they inform the concerned government offices that they have renounced their original citizenship.
The NCP Secretariat decided that a person wishing to obtain naturalised citizenship on the basis of matrimonial relations must complete all the formalities of renouncing their original citizenship before applying for naturalised citizenship, according to NCP Secretariat member Narayan Kaji Shrestha. He said his party took the decision on the seven-year waiting period because the party believed that a waiting period was necessary for foreign women married to Nepali men to understand the country better and increase their sense of loyalty to the nation. Shrestha said foreign women married to Nepali men would be given identity cards which would allow them to enjoy all other rights, including economic, social and cultural rights for the seven-year period that they were not eligible for naturalisation.
The NCP Secretariat decided to this effect at a time when the State Affairs Committee had failed to forge consensus on the citizenship amendment bill despite numerous discussions.
Co-Chair of Janata Samajwadi Party-Nepal Upendra Yadav told THT that his party would not accept the NCP decision barring foreign women married to Nepali men from obtaining natualised citizenship for seven years. He said the existing provision related to matrimonial naturalisation allowing foreign women married to Nepali men to obtain naturalised citizenship the moment they informed the concerned authorities that they had renounced their original citizenship should be retained.
“When a foreign woman marries a Nepali man, she sacrifices everything — her maternal family and lineage and she even changes her clan. Why should a woman who sacrifices everything to become part of a Nepali family be deprived of Nepali citizenship for seven years? “Yadav wondered. He said his party would discuss the issue with the NC and fight for their cause in the House.
NC’s whip in the House of Representatives Pushpa Bhusal, who is also a senior advocate, told THT that the NCP’s decision to make foreign women married to Nepali men wait for seven years to obtain naturalised citizenship was a violation of the spirit of the constitution. She said issues of restriction for naturalised citizens were debated in both the first and second Constituent Assemblies and they were settled when the constitution was promulgated.
Women who have obtained naturalised citizenship on the basis of matrimonial relations were qualified under the new constitution to hold posts other than those listed in Article 289 if they had resided in Nepal for at least five years. Hence, the
NCP’s decision was against this provision of the constitution, Bhusal argued.
Article 289 bars citizens by birth and naturalised citizens from holding some key constitutional posts including the post of prime minister, president and speaker. “The citizenship issue is linked to nationality and therefore, there must be national consensus on the issue. The ruling party should not try to pass the bill on the basis of majority in the Parliament,” she added.
Bhusal said that her party would see how the ruling party lawmakers would present the issue tomorrow at the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee and then the party would chalk out its strategies. She said the spirit of the constitution was to have a federal law related to the procedure, but the ruling party was not following the spirit of the constitution.
A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 21, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.