Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari refused to ratify an amended Citizenship Act-2006, passed twice by both the houses of Nepal. The mandatory of the House of Parliament expired on Tuesday.
The Bill designed to bring amendment in the Citizenship Act 2007 was passed by both houses. President Bhandari, who was dissatisfied with the Citizenship Bill, returned the bill, reiterating it was discriminatory to single mothers. The bill seeks to give citizenship by birth and descent to an estimated 500,000 people, allowing them to vote. Nepal is heading towards general elections on November 20. The bill also enables citizenship to children whose parents’ whereabouts are not known and Nepalis of foreign nationality will also be enabled to do business in Nepal.
According to the constitutional provision, it does not allow the President to return the bill or not certify it for the second time. According to Article 113 (4), the bill shall be verified within 15 days after it has been passed by the federal parliament with amendments or in the same form.
There seems ego and standoff between the constitutional head, the executive, and the judiciary. Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana, who tried to resume his office, is under undeclared house arrest after an impeachment motion against him moved by the outgoing Parliament over allegations of graft and also for some judgments which they see as controversial. This year, the motion for impeachment against the Chief Justice had been filed in February. As there is no parliament, there is a question- did the motion die with the term of the House, thus lifting Rana’s suspension, or will it be transferred to the new parliament after a new government is formed?
The standoff between the constitutional head, the executive, and the judiciary has triggered a constitutional crisis in Nepal, which seems to continue for some time. The citizenship bill also seems to be null and void after it isn’t signed by the President. Chief justice Rana is also under undeclared house arrest after he was suspended. The government also removed security provided to him following the development. As the country is heading towards an election, the solution to this crisis doesn’t seem to be near and easy. The ego between political actors and heads of state has put Nepal into a great crisis. The solution to this crisis should be discovered very soon. Otherwise, there is a fear that it may continue even after the election. There is a high chance of a similar standoff between the constitutional head, the executive, and the judiciary.
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