A key parliamentary panel in Nepal has proposed to amend the country’s Citizenship Act that would require a foreign woman married to a Nepali national to wait seven years for naturalised citizenship.
Nepal’s main opposition parties decried the move, saying it would inconvenience people living in Madhes as cross-border marriage is prevalent there.
Both Nepali Congress (NC) and Janata Samajbadi Party (SJP) have said that such a provision could also affect the ‘bread and bride relations’ that Nepal has had with India for ages.
The Madheshi are residents of Terai region in the south of Nepal at the foothill of the Himalayas on the border with India in Bihar.
The bill to amend the existing Citizenship Act was registered at the Parliament on Sunday. It includes seven rights that a foreign woman married to a Nepali national can exercise till she acquires citizenship certificates.
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Lack of a citizenship certificate will not bar them from running any businesses and earn, use and sell any fixed and movable assets, make profits through businesses and get involved in transaction of property of any kind.
The move to amend the citizenship act comes days after the Nepal government completed the process of redrawing the country’s political map through a Constitutional amendment, incorporating three strategically important Indian areas, a move that could severely jolt relations with New Delhi.
Earlier, Nepal’s upper house today unanimously passed a Constitution Amendment Bill to update the country’s map incorporating three Indian territories. All 57 members voted in support of the bill.
The Nepal-India relations soured after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on 8 May inaugurated the 80-km long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand.
Last week, Nepal’s lower house cleared the bill that was supported by all the 258 lawmakers present and voting. Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura are the territories Nepal now claims as its own.
Reacting to the passage of the map in Nepal’s lower house, New Delhi had said: “This artificial enlargement of claims is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable. It is also violative of our current understanding to hold talks on outstanding boundary issues.”