Kathmandu, January 22:

A few lawyers today launched a signature campaign against the government’s decision to authorise mobile teams of the Home Ministry to distribute naturalised citizenship certificates at the local level. They said the move is against the spirit of the Interim Constitution 2007 and the Nepal Citizenship Act 2006. They said only the government and not its organs can issue such citizenship certificates.

Terming the recent public announcement made by Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, in which he had said the government has authorised mobile teams to distribute naturalised citizenship certificates, “shocking”, the lawyers claimed that the government cannot delegate power to distribute such citizenship certificates to the local level. Only the central government can distribute naturalised citizenship certificates, the lawyers said.

Senior advocates Sarbagya Ratna Tuladhar, Basanta Ram Bhandari, Shyam Kharel and advocates Agni Kharel, Indra Lohani, central committee member of the Nepal Bar Association Tika Ram Bhattarai and advocate Bhimarjun Acharya launched the signature campaign. Bhattarai said over 300 lawyers signed on the appeal.

“The government move has threatened the rule of law and nationalism,” the lawyers claimed. “Since provisions of the Interim Constitution and the Nepal Citizenship Certificate Act are themselves controversial, the government should do a rethink on its move,” the appeal claimed.

Article 9 of the Interim Constitution has authorised the Home Ministry to decide whether to distribute naturalised citizenship.