Nepal Foreign Affairs (Kathmandu, September 25) – Yesterday, 24th September, several Indian newspapers wrote and commented about the provision of Nepalese citizenship in Nepal’s recently promulgated new constitution. However not a single one of them appeared correct. In fact, the news pieces and opinion articles appeared to suffer with bias, lack of knowledge and study of Nepalese citizenship provision. This piece examines some of the major lies and misinformation served by the Indian newspapers and brings the exact text of the new constitution on Nepalese citizenship.
First the lies.
Shubhajit Roy of Indian Express wrote the plainest of the lies, “Madhesi and Janajati fall in the category of naturalized citizens.” (Our Constitution better than (India’s), Indian Express, page1 and 2). The news didn’t even seem to know that Nepal’s constitution has a separate citizenship provision, neither has the journalist bothered to ask Nepalese officials he has interviewed for the same news.
Similarly, Indrani Baagchi of the Times of India wrote that Nepal constitution was “non-inclusive” although she refrains from mentioning citizenship provision. (Times of India: Nepal messed up its constitution; India messed up its handling of Nepal)
Indian Express mentioned correctly that the naturalized citizens are barred from taking up top state posts (Eight parts, 305 Articles: Nepal’s latest constitution in a nutshell). These posts include federal president, vice president, prime minister, state chief ministers and the chief of security organs. But this does not bar from any other political participation, fight elections, to become ministers and MPs, neither from taking up any government jobs. This is a common practice around the world regarding naturalized citizens. Nepal’s new constitution actually has 35 parts and 308 articles.
Anshuman Behera wrote an opinion piece in the Asian Age (“Constitutional Bias”, page 6). He writes a complete fiction on Nepalese citizenship, “Children of Nepalese woman cannot enjoy citizen status unless the husband accepts Nepalese citizenship- an arrangement that targets the Terai people.” He seems to have written this fact on hearsay, without reading the constitutional provision. Yes, Like in India, Nepal does not have dual citizenship. Any foreigner who marries with a Nepalese (man or woman) will have to abandon previous citizenship to be able to acquire Nepalese citizenship. Non- Resident Nepalese (NRN), like the NRIs in India, receive an NRN citizenship, which does not give them voting rights but protects their right to property and business. This is the exact arrangement like in India.
Then, what’s the exact citizenship provision in the new constitution. We have brought the exact English translation of the entire citizenship provision here:
Article 10 Citizenship not to be denied:
(1) No Nepali citizen shall be denied the right to acquire citizenship.
(2) There shall be a provision of single federal citizenship with provincial identity in Nepal.
Article 11 Nepali citizen to be deemed:
(1) The persons who have acquired citizenship of Nepal at the commencement of this Constitution and the persons who are eligible to acquire citizenship of Nepal under this Part shall be deemed to be the citizens of Nepal.
(2) The following persons who have their permanent domicile in Nepal shall be deemed to be citizens of Nepal by descent: –
(a) A person who has acquired the citizenship of Nepal by descent before the commencement of this constitution.
(b) Any person whose father or mother was a citizen of Nepal at the birth of such a person.
(3) A child of a citizen who has acquired citizenship of Nepal by birth before the commencement of this Constitution shall, if his/her father and mother both are the citizens of Nepal, shall be entitled to Nepali citizenship by descent upon his/her attaining the age of majority.
(4) Every child found in Nepal whereabouts of whose paternity and maternity is not known shall, until the mother or father is traced, be deemed a citizen of Nepal by descent.
(5) A person born to a Nepali citizen mother and having his/her domicile in Nepal but whose father is not traced, shall be conferred the Nepali citizenship by descent.
Provided that in case his/her father is found to be a foreigner, the citizenship of such a person shall be converted to naturalized citizenship according to the Federal law.
(6) If a foreign woman married to a Nepali citizen so wishes, she may acquire naturalized citizenship of Nepal as provided for in a Federal law.
(7) Notwithstanding anything contained elsewhere in this Article, in case of a person born to Nepali woman citizen married to a foreign citizen, he/she may acquire naturalized citizenship of Nepal as provided for by a Federal law if he/she is having the permanent domicile in Nepal and he/she has notacquired citizenship of the foreign country.
Provided that if his/her father and mother both are the citizen of Nepal at the time of acquisition of the citizenship, he/she, if born in Nepal, may acquire citizenship by descent.
(8) Except provided for in this Article, Government of Nepal may confer naturalized citizenship of Nepal according to Federal law.
(9) Government of Nepal may confer honorary citizenship according to Federal law.
(10) In case any area is annexed into Nepal by merger, the persons having domicile in such area shall be citizens of Nepal subject to a Federal law.
Article 12 Citizenship based on Descent and with Gender Identity:
The person who is entitled to the citizenship of Nepal by descent may obtain the citizenship certificate of Nepal from name of his/her mother or father along with gender identity.
Article 13 Acquisition, Requisition and Termination of Citizenship:
Other provisions as to acquisition, requisition and termination of citizenship shall be as provided for in a Federal law.
Article 14 Non-residential citizenship may be conferred:
The person who has acquired citizenship of a foreign country and residing in a country other than the country which is a member of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and who or whose father or mother, grandfather or grandmother was a citizen of Nepal by descent or birth and later on has acquired citizenship of the foreign country, may be conferred with the non-residential citizenship of Nepal entitling him/her to the economic, social and cultural rights as provided for in a Federal law.
Article 15 Other Provisions as to Citizenship of Nepal:
Record shall be maintained of each citizen of Nepal along with his/her identity, and other provisions as to citizenship shall be as provided for in the Federal law.