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Jan 27, 2023

SC’s Verdict lost Lamichhane’s power

FA News Desk
Rabi Lamichhane
Rabi Lamichhane

After the Supreme Court’s remarkable verdict on the cases relating to Rabi Lamichhane’s citizenship delivered on Friday-January 27, 2023, the sitting Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Lamichhane has lost both his posts of minister and lawmaker.

A constitutional bench of Supreme Court comprising Acting Chief Justice Hari Krishna Karki and Justices Bishwombhar Prasad Shrestha, Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada, Dr. Anand Mohan Bhattarai and Anil Kumar Sinha issued the verdict that states.”

After renouncing the US citizenship, Lamichhane was not found adhering to the legal process to acquire the Nepali citizenship again. So, he did not deserve to be the candidate of the member of House of Representatives nor could hold the lawmaker’s post. With this, a certiorari order is issued as per Article 133 (b and c) and Article 137 of Constitution of Nepal by scrapping all activities such as making Lamichhane an election candidate, announcing his election victory, and conferring him the certificate.”

According to sources, Lamichhane had taken the Nepal citizenship by descent in 1994 (2050 BS) from the District Administration Office, Kathmandu He had acquired US citizenship in 2014 after he started to stay in America.

Then after he went to the United States on a visit visa. While staying in the US he obtained US citizenship in 2014 (2070 BS). He returned to Nepal holding the US passport on a ‘relative visa’.

Immediately after staying in Nepal, he started a program on TV named ‘Sidha Kura Janata Sanga’ (direct talk with the people).

He seems to have acquired a Nepali passport in 2015 using the invalid Nepali citizenship. It is, in this way, established that he knowingly carried US and Nepali passports at the same time.

There was a controversy five years back that he has been working in Nepali despite being here on a ‘relative visa’.

The Press Council Nepal had even initiated action against him. Then after issues had arisen, he applied with the US Embassy in Nepal to renounce US citizenship tendering documents and paid necessary (US $ 2,350) fines at the Embassy in Nepal on May 19, 2018.

He also applied with the Department of Immigration under the Home Ministry on June 20, 2018 to update his record after applying with the US Embassy.

The US Embassy provided a letter approving his renunciation on June 28.  “It proves that he renounced his US citizenship.

There is no debate in it either,” the verdict stated.    

“For acquiring the Nepali citizenship again Lamichhane was found not meeting the criteria as per section 11 of Nepal Citizenship Act, 2063 and Rule 11 of Nepal Citizenship Regulation, 2063,” the SC decision added.

The SC reminded that Article 13 of the Constitution of Nepal has finely mentioned that acquisition, re-acquisition and termination of citizenship will be as per the federal law.

“Section 10 of Nepal Citizenship Act, 2063 has provisioned that if anyone takes foreign citizenship on his own or if he/she bears Nepali and foreign citizenships at once and does not choose the Nepali citizenship, he/she will remain no more a Nepali citizen,” SC verdict reiterated.

Advocates Rabiraj Basaula, Yubraj Poudel and others had filed a writ petition at SC against Home Minister Lamichhane, questioning his eligibility for the post of lawmaker. In the petition, they had argued that Lamichhane formed a political party, got elected to the member of House of Representatives without acquiring Nepali citizenship, so his lawmaker’s post needs to be annulled. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (SC) verdict revoking Rastriya Swatantra Party Chairman Rabi Lamichhane’s post of lawmaker has paved the way for investigation on allegations against him of acquiring a Nepali passport submitting false details.

However, Friday’s verdict did not mention the issue of passports.

The Home Ministry had received a complaint requesting investigation on Lamichhane’s citizenship and passport immediately after the recent election. The Home Ministry then investigated the matter.

The investigation, however, was stopped after he became home minister.

I welcome verdict

Rabi Lamichhane, who lost the posts of lawmaker and Home Minister after the verdict of the Supreme Court, has said he would welcome SC decision.

Responding to queries of media persons while exiting from Home Ministry after SC’s verdict on Friday, Lamichhane shared there was not any higher body than the Supreme Court, so, he welcomed the SC’s verdict.

“I welcome the SC’s verdict,” he reiterated, wondering, “In other questions, what can a non-citizen respond to” Lamichhane further said, “You are asking questions to a non-citizen. I don’t know whom the question is being asked.” Chairperson of Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP), Rabi Lamichhane has turned stateless with today’s decision of the Supreme Court (SC).

He turned to be stateless when the apex court did not recognize the citizenship he used at election time.

According to Assistant Attorney General, Sanjeeb Raj Regmi, the apex court has concluded that Lamichhane was not found completing the due process for retaining citizenship to become the Nepali citizen though he had terminated the US citizenship.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Lamichhane has announced his resignation from the post, respecting the apex court decision. He tendered his resignation noting that it was not appropriate to remain any positions in the stateless status.    

According to the legal provision, his citizenship can be retained after he submitted an application for requisition of the citizenship in Nepal with evidence of renouncement of the foreign citizenship.    

The Supreme Court’s verdict on Friday has lost four positions as MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Chairman of the National Independent Party and Leader of the Parliamentary Party.

As per the legal sources, there are thousands of cases like Ravi. Thousands of Nepalese living in countries where dual citizenship is allowed have lived without revoking their Nepalese citizenship.

In the last 20-25 years, many Nepalis have gone abroad and settled in countries where they can get dual citizenship’, the official said, ‘Thousands of such people are living without revoking their Nepali citizenship.’

The court decision has opened the way for Lamichhane to get a new citizenship. He can go to the concerned district administration office and recover the citizenship. Which can pave the way for him to participate in party president and by-elections.

Meanwhile, according to RSWP sources have said that the process to get Lamichhane’s new citizenship will start from today.

Lamichhane, who is also the chairman of the National Independent Party was appointed Home Minister along with the Deputy Prime Minister on December 26, 2022, in the government led by Maoist Center Chairman and Prime Minister Dahal.

Interestingly, he gained popularity on television in a short time. His talk became widespread after the current Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda sent him off on Nepal Television’s ‘Sidha Kura Pradhan Mantri Sang’.

Rabi was removed from the NTV program on July 19, 1973 when Prachanda was the Prime Minister for his second term.

Before Prachanda became the Prime Minister, KP Sharma Oli’s government gave authority to Ravi to run the program ‘Sidha Kura Pradhan Mantri Saeng’. After Prachanda became the Prime Minister, the presenter changed.

The program run by Ravi was conducted by a journalist near the Maoist center.

On August 5, 2073, Ravi began to broadcast his program named ‘Sidha Kura Janata Sanga’ in private TV expressing his anger targeting Prachanda. Ravi repeatedly asked for Prachanda’s time to ask the reason why he was removed from the program. However, there was no response.

At that time, he said, ‘I will not be able to meet you even for 5 minutes. I waited a lot and appealed to many people. Now it’s time to wait, Prime Minister (Prachanda).

Well, I’ll do my best to make you think that someday you’ll be able to meet me. This is just my determination and confidence, not boasting. I can’t wait for that day.

Rabi worked hard in the same way. He achieved great success as a television personality. He succeeded in staying in the eyes of the common people.

On June 21, 2022 he formed the National Independent Party to capitalize on his success in television. The party built under his own leadership achieved unexpected results in a short period of time.

After the election, his party had 20 Members of Parliaments, which became a “decisive power” in Nepali politics and became the ruling party.

Even having 20 seats He managed to get three ministers including Home and Deputy Prime Minister and one state minister.

While the Supreme Court verdict came out Ravi was working at the Home Ministry in Singh Durbar.