Supreme Court Orders Registration of United Nepali Diaspora Organization (UNDO)

The Supreme Court of Nepal has issued a landmark order directing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to register the United Nepali Diaspora Organization (UNDO), which was formed to represent foreign nationals of Nepali origin and individuals holding permanent residence permits abroad. The organization was established under the leadership of Sonam Lama, the former vice president of the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA).

Last year, Sonam Lama filed an application with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the official registration of UNDO, aiming to create a distinct platform exclusively for non-resident Nepalis of Nepali origin or those holding permanent residence permits overseas. However, the ministry declined the request, prompting Lama to file a writ petition in the Supreme Court to challenge the decision.

On Sunday, a joint bench of Supreme Court Judges, Anand Mohan Bhattarai and Teel Prasad Shrestha, pronounced their verdict in favor of Sonam Lama and UNDO, ordering the immediate registration of the organization. This decision establishes the legal existence of more than one organization representing non-resident Nepalis in Nepal.

The Non-Resident Nepali Act’s Section 16 permits non-resident Nepalis to establish non-resident Nepali associations within Nepal to foster mutual cooperation and harmony among the diaspora. Currently, the Non-Resident Nepali Association, founded in 2003, operates under this provision. However, Lama had long advocated that such associations should exclusively consist of foreign nationals of Nepali origin or those with permanent residence permits abroad.

Sonam Lama is a well-known philanthropist and entrepreneur with many business ventures in the US and Nepal. He was the Vice President and head of Philanthropy and Humanitarian Assistance Department of the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) International Coordination Council.

The dispute between Sonam Lama and the Non-Resident Nepali Association escalated¬† when it was decided to elect three presidents within the association. Following this, Lama initiated the registration process for a new organization in line with the Act’s provisions. Together with 58 non-resident Nepalis from 28 countries, he submitted the application for UNDO registration to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Notably, former President of the Non-Resident Nepali Association, Shesha Ghale, also supported Sonam Lama’s cause.

Despite the joint application, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remained silent, prompting UNDO’s legal representative, Ashish Upreti, to file a writ petition in the Supreme Court. After a lengthy legal process, the court ruled in favor of UNDO, leading to its official registration.

Following the favorable Supreme Court ruling, Sonam Lama expressed his satisfaction with the decision and confirmed that UNDO would proceed with the registration process accordingly. The establishment of UNDO is expected to provide a new platform for non-resident Nepalis to unite and collaborate, bolstering their ties with Nepal and promoting shared interests among the diaspora.