KATHMANDU, Feb 17: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs not to implement its decision to issue citizenship to the children of those acquiring Nepali citizenship by birth if the children were born prior to their parents´ acquiring such citizenship, pending a final verdict on the issue.
The apex court also ruled that citizenship certificates cannot be given to such people through an executive order.
While staying implementation of a home ministry directive dated January 9 that required district administration offices to issue citizenship certificates to offspring born before their parents acquired citizenship by birth under a special temporary provision of the Interim Constitution, the court also noted that citizenship certificates can be issued to such offspring only through an amendment to the Interim Constitution and the exisiting Citizenship Act.
"... the issuing of citizenship by descent to persons other than those defined in the Interim Constitution is not a matter to be decided through an executive decision but something to be settled through a legislative decision by amending Article 8(2) of the Interim Constitution," Justices Bharat Raj Upreti and Dr Bharat Bahadur Karki said while staying the home minister´s decision.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar had decided to distribute citizenship certificates by descent to the offspring of those who acquired citizenship certificates by birth but who were themselves born before their parents acquired such citizenship, and the ministry had issued a circular to this effect to all the district administration offices even though the constitution and citizenship law are silent on the issue.
The interim constitution says that citizenship certificates based on birth will be given on a one-off basis to citizens who were born before 1990 in Nepali territory, but the constitution is silent about giving citizenship to the offspring of such Nepali citizens if the offspring were born before their parents acquired their citizenship by birth..
The justices passed the stay order in response to two separate writ petitions filed by former registrar of the Supreme Court Shree Prasad Pandit and advocates Bal Krishna Neupane and Prabina Wasti. They lawyers had moved the court, questioning the constitutionality of Gachchhadar´s decision.