Supreme Court says Rabi Lamichhane passport issue will be resolved as per lawThe Rastriya Swatantra Party chief can face a criminal charge if he is found to have simultaneously possessed passports of Nepal and the US.
The Supreme Court has said the case relating to Rastriya Swatantra Party President Rabi Lamichhane obtaining a Nepali passport through an invalid citizenship document will be resolved in accordance with the law.
On Tuesday, issuing a full text of the January verdict that relieved Lamichhane of membership of the House of Representatives, the apex court said the passport issue will be resolved by the authority concerned as per the Citizenship Act and the Passport Act.
“As the Ministry of Home Affairs and District Administration Office in their written answers [to the court] have said an investigation is ongoing in the case relating to the passport, the court need not enter the matter now,” reads a point in the full text of the verdict, adding the authority concerned would resolve the matter based on the the existing Act.
Lamichhane had in February 1994 acquired citizenship by descent from the District Administration Office, Kathmandu. Twenty years later, in 2014, he got an American citizenship. His Nepali citizenship was automatically scrapped the day he became an American citizen, according to the Citizenship Act.
Lamichhane returned to Nepal in 2014, the same year he acquired American citizenship. After four years of his stay in Nepal, a complaint was lodged at the Press Council saying he was working in Nepal without a permit. A foreign national needs a permit to work in the country. It was only after much criticism that Lamichhane renounced his American citizenship in May 2018, and its proof was presented at the Department of Immigration.
In between he had acquired a Nepali passport by producing the Nepali citizenship he got in 1994 even before giving up his American citizenship.
In its January 27 verdict, the court had said Lamichhane was ineligible to be a lawmaker because he didn’t have a Nepali citizenship. The verdict consequently cost him the posts of deputy prime minister and home minister. After renouncing his American citizenship, Lamichhane needed to reapply for Nepali citizenship, but he hadn’t done that.
The full text says one must be a Nepali citizen to enjoy the political rights like forming a party or contesting elections.
“It is a must to reacquire Nepali citizenship by following due legal process at the respective district administration office after abandoning foreign citizenship in order to enjoy the political rights,” reads the full text of the verdict by the five-member constitutional bench led by acting Chief Justice Hari Krishna Karki.
Lamichhane has already required Nepali citizenship and is preparing to contest the by-election in Chitwan-2, which became vacant after the court invalidated his election as lawmaker. Lamichhane, however, can face a criminal charge if found to have simultaneously possessed passports of Nepal and the US.