Nepal: Deputy PM convicted in fake citizenship case, removed from post by Supreme Court

Nepal: Deputy PM convicted in fake citizenship case, removed from post by Supreme Court

Nepal's Supreme Court has sacked Rabi Lamichhane from the office of Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister after he was found guilty in the citizenship and passport case. As per the orders of the constitutional bench of the apex court, Rabi has also lost his position as a Member of Parliament.

The Supreme Court said that the MP post of Rabi Lamichhane has also been cancelled. Therefore, Rabi will now have to step down from the post of minister, MP and party president as well. Rabi Lamichhane, president of the Rashtriya Swatantra Party, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister after the general elections in 2022, but has been dismissed by the Supreme Court.

The Court said that all acts done by Rabi as a Nepalese citizen would be illegal. In fact, the petition stated that Lamichhane had not acquired Nepali citizenship after giving up US citizenship. At the same time, after this decision of the Constitutional Bench, the post of minister and MP of Lamichhane has been cancelled. Similarly, Lamichhane is also ineligible to become the president of the Rashtriya Swatantra Party.

Questioning Lamichhane's eligibility to be a Member of Parliament, advocate Rabiraj Basaula and others had filed a petition on December 14 seeking cancellation of Lamichhane's membership. In the petition, Lamichhane was accused of holding dual citizenship. The petitioners demanded that Lamichhane should be removed from the post of party chief. The petitioners argued that only Nepali citizens have the constitutional right to vote in elections, become candidates and establish political parties in the country. It also argued that Lamichhane's positions as a member of the lower house and as party president were illegal.

The petitioners had also demanded that the Supreme Court issue an interim order restraining Lamichhane from acting as an MLA till the final court decision. During the preliminary hearing of the case on January 6, the Supreme Court had declined to issue an interim order, giving it the option of deciding the issue through a final judgement.

Know what section 10 of the Citizenship Act says in Nepal
Section 10 of the Citizenship Act states that any Nepalese citizen who voluntarily acquires the citizenship of a foreign country shall automatically lose Nepalese citizenship. A few months after becoming a US citizen, Lamichhane, a media personality, returned to Nepal and started working here. Four years later a complaint was lodged with the Press Council of Nepal saying that he was working in Nepal without a work permit. A foreign national needs a permit to work in Nepal.

It was only after criticism that Lamichhane renounced his US citizenship in May 2018 and proof of this was presented to the immigration department. However, he never applied to regain his citizenship. Lamichhane's lawyers had argued that since he had never renounced his Nepali citizenship. His citizenship has been automatically revived since 1994, when he renounced his US citizenship.


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