No voters' registration without citizenship: Nepal top court
Kathmandu: Nepal's top court on Thursday
directed the Election Commission to halt the registration of
new voters who do not have citizenship certificate, a move
likely to fuel resentment among millions of ethnic Indian
origin Madhesis living in the Terai plains bordering India.
Justice Prakash Wasti of the Supreme Court today
issued an interim stay order while hearing a writ petition to
halt the Election Commission's (EC) decision to register new
voters who showed proof of local domicile through documents
other than citizenship certificate.
The apex court termed it a serious matter related to
the issue of nationality while passing the order, according to
Nepal's Terai plains are home to about half of the
country's 30 million people, and the residents of the region,
known as Madhesis, have long complained of discrimination by
the country's hill communities.
The Terai-based parties have claimed that millions of
people living in the plains have been deprived of citizenship
Earlier, the Election panel had decided to allow
documents other than citizenship certificate as proof of local
domicile for being registered as a voter after Madhesh-based
parties expressed concern amid fears that it would excluded
millions of ethnic Indian origin people living in the Terai
plains bordering India.
They had threatened to launch a stir if the government
barred people from being registered as voters on the ground
that they did not have citizenship certificate.
The pro-Terai parties argue that people in the
Madhesi-dominated southern plains have long been treated as
second-class citizens in Nepal, where hill-origin elites
dominate politics, the security forces and business.
They have demanded greater economic and political
rights, including more representation in the state structure.
The interim order was in response to a joint petition
filed by Sadhhya Bahadur Bhandari, Rishiraj Ghimire and Tara
Sapkota who had claimed that Commission's decision could
establish wrong precedent for the future.