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Writ petition demands the president put on hold the citizenship bill

File: Supreme Court of Nepal
File: Supreme Court of Nepal

Kathmandu, September 20

The Supreme Court has registered a writ petition that demands President Bidya Devi Bhandari put on hold the controversial citizenship bill.

Endorsing the bill to amend the Citizenship Act through both houses of the federal parliament, Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota sent the bill to the head of the state seeking its final assent two weeks ago. Today is the 15th day since the bill was sent, and constitutionally, she is required to enact the bill by the end of today.

In this context, senior advocate Surendra Bhandari filed the petition arguing the head of the state should put the bill on hold as it is against the country’s interests.

The petition was listed on the cause list today, but the hearing could not take place.

As President Bidya Devi Bhandari had sent back the same bill to the House of Representatives suggesting a revision, which the houses refused to consider, it is not yet clear what the president will do next.

The second amendment to the Citizenship Act was aimed at addressing concerns of the Madhesh-centric parties and the Non-resident Nepali Association. However, it was drawn into controversy citing the citizenship bill did not bar foreign women marrying Nepali men from getting citizenship easily.

Self-claimed nationalist activists have expressed concerns that loose citizenship provisions in Nepal could give the dominating India to gradually push its citizens to Nepal and perpetuate its control over the small county.

Consequently, President Bidya Devi Bhandari returned the citizenship bill to the parliament, suggesting a reconsideration, bringing herself into a conflict with the executive.

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