NA endorses Passport Bill

Kathmandu, September 17

The National Assembly today unanimously endorsed the Passport Bill, which was sent back by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari for revision.

Though there was no clear statement or direction from the President’s office to revise particular provisions in the bill, there was concern regarding a provision which stated that the government bodies could issue order asking concerned authorities not to issue passport for a citizen, for no reasonable ground.

According to a NA source, President Bhandari was against the provision that allowed government authorities not to issue passport for Nepali citizens without any legal grounds. So, the bill was sent back to the NA for its reconsideration. The NA amended the bill as per the sentiment of President Bhandari.

The amendment proposal endorsed by the NA stated that concerned authority could deny passport to Nepali citizens only on reasonable grounds. “The citizen in question is entitled to know the reason why he or she was denied passport,” the bill stated.

The bill amended by the National Assembly, however, gave government the power to suspend, revoke or deny passport to a citizen, when investigation of a case filed against him or her, under immigration, corruption, money laundering, human trafficking, narcotics drugs and illegal arms law, was underway.

Section 12 of the bill, which was passed by the HoR and sent back by the president on this provision stated, “The passport issuing authority shall deny passport to those against whom the Government of Nepal or a court of law has issued order telling the government authorities not to issue passport for them.” Section 12 of the bill, which was endorsed by the NA today stipulated that the government could deny passport to a person, if a case of the person in question for defaulting loan was sub-judice.

As per the provision in the bill, such restriction also applied to those who faced cases under laws that deal with crimes of human trafficking, abduction, narcotic drugs, organised crime, and terrorism. Restriction also applied to those persons against whom concerned bodies wrote to the passport issuing authorities, saying that the persons in question were indulged in acts detrimental to Nepal’s sovereignty, integrity and unity, according to the amended bill.