HoR to restart process on Passport Bill

May 25, 2019

Kathmandu (Nepal) May 25: The House of Representatives will restart the process of passing the bill to amend and integrate laws relating to passport, also known as Passport Bill, after President Bidhya Devi Bhandari sent the bill back to the HoR for reconsideration.
Spokesperson for Parliament Secretariat Rojnath Pandey told THT that the HoR would now restart the entire process and lawmakers of the Lower House would be given a chance to register amendment proposals on the bill. Once the HoR passes the bill, it will send the bill to the National Assembly for consideration.
The HoR had sent the bill to the president around two weeks ago, but the president sent it back to the HoR on Wednesday, invoking Article 113 (3) of the constitution, after some Upper House lawmakers, including Nepali Congress' Radhe Shyam Adhikari and Nepal Communist Party's (NCP) Ram Narayan Bidari criticised the bill's contents.
The HoR sent the bill to the president invoking Article 111 (5) of the constitution that allows it to send a bill to the president for her assent even if it is not passed or rejected by the Upper House of the Parliament, within two months.
Article 111 (5) of the constitution stipulates: any bill, except for a Money Bill, passed by the House of Representatives and transmitted to the National Assembly shall be returned with approval or suggestions within two months from the date of receipt. If the National Assembly does not return the bill within that period, the House of Representatives may, by a resolution passed by a majority of the total number of its existing members, present the bill to the president for assent.The Upper House could not pass the bill within two months as it elapsed the deadline due to recess between the last winter session and the current budget session of the Parliament.
Lawmakers Adhikari and Bidari, who are also senior advocates, said the bill's provision to deny a citizen his/her passport just because a serious criminal case is sub-judice against him/her was flawed.
Section 12 of the bill stipulates that the government can deny passport to a person, if a case involving the question of whether he/she should be blacklisted for defaulting on loan is sub-judice.
The bill also states that the government can deny passport to a person when a case under money laundering and corruption laws is sub-judice against him/her. As per the bill's provision, such restriction will also apply to those who face cases under laws that deal with the crimes of human trafficking, abduction, narcotic drugs, organised crime, and terrorism.
Such restriction will also apply to those persons against whom concerned bodies write to the passport issuing authority, saying that they are indulged in acts, detrimental to Nepal's sovereignty, integrity and unity and hence they should not be issued passports.
The bill also stipulates that the passport issuing authority shall deny passport to those persons against whom the Government of Nepal or a court of law has issued orders telling the government authorities not to issue passport to those persons.
"How can the government not issue passport just because any government office tells the passport authority not to issue a passport to a citizen?" Bidari asked. He said only the concerned government agency should tell the passport authority to deny passport to a person on valid grounds.
"The government can deny passport to a citizen only after the court convicts him, but not at the time a criminal case is pending in the court," Bidari said.
Adhikari said when the bill was referred to the Upper House by the HoR, Legislation Management Committee had suggested amendments to the bill, which the government had agreed to incorporate. But that did not happen as the bill was not put to vote in the NA.
According to Adhikari, suggestions by the Upper House panel, gave the government power to suspend, revoke or deny passport to a citizen, when investigation of a case filed against him/her under - immigration, corruption, money laundering, human trafficking, narcotics drugs and illegal arms laws, is underway.
The NA panel has also suggested that once the cases under these laws reach the court, a citizen can be denied passport only by the order of the court.
Source: The Himalayan Times