President Bidya Devi Bhandari’s decision not to authenticate the bill to amend the Citizenship Act, passed by Parliament, has drawn strong criticisms from the five-party ruling coalition and constitutional experts.
A meeting of the five-party coalition has termed the President’s move unconstitutional. Bhandari chose to sit on the bill until the term of the federal parliament expired on Sept 20.
The ruling coalition and the Office of the President were at loggerheads ever since Bhandari refused to endorse the bill the first time around and returned it to Parliament for reconsideration. The House, in turn, had re-sent the bill to the President, without making any changes.
Constitutionally, the President has no right to reject a bill endorsed by the Parliament.
As dispute between the President and the government flares up, Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun has also weighed in on the fracas.
Vice President Pun on Sept 21 criticized President Bhandari’s move calling it unconstitutional.
“The President did not fulfill her obligation of protecting the constitution,” reads the statement issued by the Office of the Vice President.
Constitutional expert Sunil Pokharel says there are two possible way-out of the current political crisis: political and legal.
“The first option is to impeach President Bhandari for violating the constitution. The second is to implement the bill endorsed by Parliament by publishing it in Nepal Gazette.”
Pokharel adds following the second option could take the matter to the Supreme Court. “The court will define the president’s right on this matter.”
CPN (Maoist Center) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal has hinted that the ruling parties could move the court.
Political analyst Nilambar Acharya suggests putting the issue on hold until the November election is over.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties, including CPN-UML, of which President Bhandari is from, are yet to respond on the issue.