Nepal | February 18, 2020

Govt told to issue citizenship by descent to Birgunj denizen

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, June 7

The Supreme Court has issued a writ of mandamus telling the government to issue citizenship by descent to Sunil Sah, a resident of Birgunj Sub-metropolitan City, who had filed a case against the government for denying him his citizenship.

The writ was issued by a division bench of justices Prakash Man Singh and Purushottam Bhandari.

The 19-year old petitioner had filed the case at the apex court after he was denied citizenship. According to case details, his mother is a citizen by descent and his father a citizen by birth, but his citizenship was not issued mainly because a new federal citizenship law has not been enacted yet.

This case highlights the inconsistencies in some recent verdicts/orders of the Supreme Court.

A single bench of justice Bhandari had, on April 8, issued a temporary stay order against the Home Ministry’s circular that had authorised the district administration offices to issue citizenship of descent to citizens by birth.

Bhandari’s bench had issued the temporary stay order in response to a writ petition filed by Senior Advocate Bal Krishna Neupane challenging the Home Ministry’s circular. The Home Ministry had said that it issued the circular as children of citizens by birth were entitled to citizens by descent as per the constitution and the SC’s verdicts in some cases told the government to provide citizenship to children of citizens by birth. A division bench of justices Hari Krishna Karki and Bam Kumar Shrestha had vacated the interim order issued by justice Purushottam Bhandari on April 8, in the same case.

On May 7, a division bench of justices Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada and Sushmalata Mathema stayed the implementation of the circular as demanded by Senior Advocate Bal Krishna Neupane in a supplementary writ petition and this order continues to be in effect.

Chief Attorney of Province 2, Dipendra Jha said the SC agreed in principle that children of citizens by birth should be given citizenship by descent but recently there have been some contradictory decisions.“I think the spirit of the constitution is that children of citizens by birth should not be denied citizenship,” he argued.

Petitioner Sunil Sah stated that the Ward Office of Birgunj Sub-metropolis-22 refused to issue a recommendation letter for him on 12 September 2016.

He stated in his petition that he had passed the entrance examination conducted by the Institute of Engineering, TU, but had not been able to enrol in the college due to lack of citizenship certificate. He said he had passed the difficult entrance examination and thus, his legal right to obtain education had already been established. He further argued that if he was denied admission, his right to education, equal protection and right to acquire property would be violated.

The petitioner argued that while filling up the form for IoE entrance exam, he was asked to submit either a digital copy of his admission card issued for Grade 12 exams or a copy of citizenship certificate and he submitted a copy of his admission card. Later at the time of admission, he was asked to produce a copy of his citizenship certificate.

The petitioner also cited some past precedents set in similar cases where the SC had issued writs of mandamus telling the government to provide citizenship to the petitioners. The petitioner said that all citizens with similar cases should be granted their Nepali citizenship without requiring them to knock the court’s door.

He sought repeal of a notice issued by the IoE on 24 August 2019, requiring all candidates to submit a copy of citizenship certificate for the purpose of admission to colleges.

The petitioner had filed the writ petition at the SC on 7 September 2018, naming the IoE, the Ministry of Home Affairs and District Administration Office, Parsa, as defendants, among others.

A version of this article appears in print on June 08, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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