New President can authenticate citizenship bill, legal experts sayPrime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal seeks suggestions from representatives of Nepal Bar Association on the bill’s status.
Lawyers’ representatives have suggested that President Ramchandra Paudel can authenticate the bill to amend the Citizenship Act which former President Bidya Devi Bhandari had repeatedly refused to endorse.
Ahead of the second session of the new Parliament set to commence on Sunday, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had invited representatives from the Nepal Bar Association to seek suggestions on the status of the bill. The office-bearers of the umbrella body of lawyers suggested that as Parliament had accomplished its task by endorsing the bill twice, it is now up to the President to decide the matter.
“As Parliament has already endorsed the bill twice, it cannot go back again,” Gopal Krishna Ghimire, chairperson of the Bar Association, told the Post. “We suggested that the President has every authority to authenticate the bill.”
Former President Bhandari had refused to authenticate the amendment bill twice. On August 14 last year, Bhandari had returned the amendment bill to the House of Representatives for a review with her 15-point concerns and suggestions. Both the chambers of federal parliament endorsed the bill as it is, without considering Bhandari’s suggestions.
When the bill was sent to the President’s Office for authentication for the second time, Bhandari sat on it, letting the 15-day deadline pass, which constitutional experts say was unconstitutional.
The constitution allows the President to return the bill to the parliament for reconsideration once. Article 113 (3) states that except in the case of a money bill, if the President thinks that a bill needs reconsideration, it may be sent back to the House where it originated along with a message within 15 days of receiving it.
But the constitution says the President has to endorse it the second time.
“In case any bill is sent back along with a message by the President, and both Houses reconsider and adopt such a bill as it was or with amendments and present it again, the President shall authenticate that bill within 15 days of such presentation,” Article 113(4) of the constitution says.
The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court. Five different writ petitions were lodged by advocates seeking the Supreme Court’s intervention against Bhandari’s refusal to authenticate the bill that was twice endorsed by the House and the National Assembly. Responding to the petition, the court had issued a show cause notice against the President’s Office to explain the reasons behind President Bhandari sitting on the bill without authenticating it.
The final verdict is yet to be made.
As President Bhandari retired on March 9 without authenticating the bill, now the government wants to get it endorsed by President Paudel, who was elected with the backing of the ruling coalition.