Nepal Citizenship Amendment Act

Nepal Citizenship Amendment Act

Why in the news?

Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bhandari had sent back the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2006 back to the Pratinidhi Sabha i.e. the House of Representatives or the lower house of the Nepal Parliament, urging the members to reconsider the Act, which is claimed to be violating the principles of gender justices.

Why is this citizenship act needed?

  1. Nepal was earlier a monarchy but it transitioned into a democracy beginning with the fall of the monarchy in 2006 and thus subsequent election of the Maoist government in 2008.
  2. After the emergence of the multiparty system their was an adoption of the new constitution on 20 September 2015
  3. All the Nepali citizens who were born before 20 September 2015 got citizenship through naturalization but their children remained  without citizenship as for that there was need of a federal law which by that time had not been framed.
  4. This amendment Act is expected to pave the way to citizenship for many such stateless youth as well as their parents.

What are the issues with Nepal Citizenship Amendment Act?

  1. GENDER INJUSTICES: It has been criticized on the fact that it goes against the parameters of Gender injustices. It is described as follows:
      •  Article 11(2b): According to this , a person born to a father or a mother with Nepalese citizenship can get citizenship by descent.
      • Article 11(5) : According to this a person who is born to a Nepalese mother (who has lived in the country) and an unidentified father will also get citizenship by descent but this section is  humiliating for a mother as she has to declare that her husband is unidentified , for the child to be eligible for citizenship.
      • But in this case the Nepali father, he will not have to make such declaration.
      • It places a condition of permanent residency on the mother (and the child) which will determine the grant of citizenship for the child.
      • Article 11(7) : According to this , a child born to a Nepalese mother and a father holding a foreign citizenship can get “naturalized citizenship” in accordance with the laws of Nepal which appears to contradict Article 11(2b).

Why has the amendment been framed?

  • Undermining of the culture: There is always a concern among the  orthodox sections of Nepal that Nepalese men, particularly from the Terai region that if continue to marry women from northern India then Nepalese cultural and social  identity would be undermined because of this “Roti-Beti Ka Rishta” i.e Nepalese men marrying Indian women .
  • Cooling of period : Many women could not become citizens of Nepal as they were legally  subjected to the  seven-year cooling off period before they could apply for citizenship in Nepal.
  • As such women were stateless, children of such families were also often found to be without Nepalese citizenship.
  • The new amendments have done away with the cooling off period for these stateless women.
  • This will not only benefit the children of such families where the mother and children remained stateless for years but would also ensure a social egalitarian society.

Way Forward

  • The reconsideration in the act is needed at this point of the hour but a real balance is to be  required to maintained with the cultural identity as well. This will ensure both the goal of culture and social justice.

plutus IAS current affairs eng med 25th August 2022

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