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More aliens increasingly likely to have a new and permanent status

KATHMANDU: The government has decided to go for yet another constitutional amendment to provide “citizenship by descent” to children who were born when none of their parents were Nepalis.

The move follows a fresh warning from the Madhesi parties in the current coalition to withdraw their support if the August 28
four-point deal was not implemented immediately.

A meeting of the coalition partners at Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s official residence in Baluwatar on Thursday took a
decision to this effect.

Citizenship in the Tarai is one of the major issues agreed to be addressed in the four-point deal.

The Morcha has been demanding that the government issue citizenship to the children born before at least one of their parents acquired Nepali citizenship in 2006.

The government had in 2006 distributed “citizenship by birth” to around 170,000 people, mostly from the Tarai by taking 1990 as the cut-off date.

These individuals were given the citizenship after they proved that they were born in Nepal before 1990. The move, however, also drew flak from different quarters.

They said issuing citizenship based on only the birth certificate would have serious implications on national security given the open
Nepal-India border.

The Morcha, however, has been arguing that children born to these new entrants were left out as the law requires at least one of their parents to be a Nepali when the child was born.

PM Bhattarai assured the Morcha and other coalition partners that “citizenship by birth” would be distributed irrespective of the
Supreme Court’s stay order. According to the PM, this would be possible by amending the Interim Constitution, which would also
“silence the court.”

The government’s move to distribute citizenship by descent has been stayed by the Supreme Court.

The PM has said that he would be directing the minister concerned to make preparations in this regard. The PM also told the Morcha members and other coalition partners that the Maoist party firmly stands with its coalition partners on the issue of citizenship.

Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar’s move in January to direct District Administration Offices across the country to issue “citizenship by descent” to children born before 2006 to the new entrants drew flak from the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML.

In February, the Supreme Court stayed Gachchadar’s circular, terming it a breach of the constitution and the law. The Apex court argued that a ministerial-level meeting alone cannot take a call on such an important issue.

The court had ruled that since the constitution has already clarified as to who all are eligible for citizenship by descent, the executive cannot have a say in providing such citizenship to people other than those stated.

Meanwhile, opposition parties have taken serious exception to the fresh move. The apex court’s decision to stay the move must be
respected, NC leader Arjun Narsingh KC said.

Published Date: Friday, March 9th, 2012 | 04:58 AM

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