With citizenship, Lamichhane regains party presidencyLamichhane, whose status as Deputy Prime Minister, Home Minister and party president was scrapped on Friday by the apex court, reacquired Nepali citizenship and returned to the party top post on Sunday.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane on Sunday reacquired his Nepali citizenship that was scrapped after he acquired an American passport in 2014.
Lamichhane had received the citizenship by descent from the District Administration Office, Kathmandu in February 1994. Twenty years later, in 2014, he acquired an American citizenship. His Nepali citizenship got automatically scrapped the day he became an American citizen, as per the Citizenship Act.
“Lamichhane has reacquired his original citizenship [issued in 1994] which he had lost after receiving the foreign citizenship,” Devi Pandey Khatri, assistant chief district officer, told the Post. “The citizenship issued on Sunday has the same details as the one issued earlier.”
The Supreme Court had on Friday stripped Lamichhane of the membership of the House of Representatives, concluding that he didn’t have the Nepali citizenship. He also lost his ministerial portfolio and the presidency of the Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) because one needs to be a Nepali citizen to hold those positions.
Upon receiving the Nepali citizenship, Lamichhane surrendered the Nepali passport he acquired in 2015 to the Department of Passport. He had got the passport using the citizenship received in 1994, though the citizenship certificate was automatically invalidated in March 2014.
Hours after reclaiming his citizenship, the party’s central committee appointed him the RSP president.
On Sunday, the party held three rounds of central committee meetings after Lamichhane reacquired the citizenship certificate.
“In the first meeting after he [Lamichhane] got the citizenship certificate, we nominated him as central committee member, and the second meeting of the same committee reinstated him as the party president,” Kabindra Burlakoti, joint general secretary of the party, told the Post. “The third meeting that was chaired by Lamichhane himself took other decisions such as to resume organisational expansion that was put on hold on Friday until further notice.”
The same committee on Friday had made Dol Prasad Aryal acting president following the court order.
In its Friday verdict, the Supreme Court had said there is no debate that Lamichhane in June 2018 had renounced his American citizenship, but he didn’t apply to reclaim his Nepali citizenship. “Nepali citizenship becomes void after receiving the foreign citizenship,” read the verdict of the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court. “Due legal process needs to be followed to reclaim citizenship. Lamichhane didn’t follow the legal course.”
Section 10 of the Citizenship Act says any Nepali citizen who voluntarily took the citizenship of any foreign country will automatically lose the Citizenship of Nepal. The Act also makes it mandatory to apply to reclaim the Nepali citizenship if one renounces his/her foreign citizenship. Though Lamichhane had renounced his American citizenship, he hadn’t applied for the Nepali citizenship.
Clause 11 of the regulation to the Act says the person who has renounced the foreign citizenship should apply to the Ministry of Home Affairs or the concerned District Administration Office for a Nepali citizenship. However, Lamichhane never applied for it.
Lamichhane contested the election of the House of Representatives producing a copy of the citizenship acquired in 1994, which had got automatically scrapped after he received his American citizenship in 2014.
He won the elections with a huge margin from Chitwan-2. Formed on July 1 last year, Rastriya Swatantra Party won 20 seats in the November 20 elections, becoming the fourth-largest party in the lower house. The Election Commission will hold a by-election in Chitwan-2 in consultation with the government.