Kathmandu, Jan 27 (PTI) Rabi Lamichhane resigned as the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of Nepal on Friday after the Supreme Court found him guilty of not producing a valid citizenship certificate to contest the parliamentary election.
Lamichhane, 48, handed over his resignation to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda".
After tendering his resgination following the apex court’s verdict, Lamicchane told media persons at his office that he is “no more the Deputy Prime Minister.” “I am not even the president of the Rastriya Swotantra Party,” he said. Welcoming the apex court’s verdict he said: “I am not even the citizen of this country or 'Anagarik' non-citizen.” Lamichhane was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister on December 25.
The Supreme Court annulled Lamichhane’s status as a lawmaker, citing that the citizenship certificate he produced to contest the parliamentary election was invalid.
“As Rabi Lamichhane has not completed the process for reacquiring his Nepali citizenship after renouncing his American citizenship, he cannot be a candidate for the position of a member of the House of Representatives or be elected to that position,” read the verdict.
Lamichhane returned to Nepal as a US citizen in 2014 after spending years in America and acquired Nepali passport a year later.
As the court invalidated his citizenship certificate, he can’t even be considered a Nepali citizen for now, making him ineligible to become a minister and party chief.
As per the Nepalese law, any national who either decides to quit the citizenship or acquires foreign citizenship will automatically lose his Nepali citizenship.
Lamichhane, the president of Rastriyia Swotantra Party which has emerged as the fourth largest party in the Parliamentary election with 20 seats and became a major component of the ruling alliance, “did never initiate the process of acquiring Nepali citizenship after losing it”, the court verdict said.
A team of advocates, including Rabi Raj Basaula, had filed a writ petition in the apex court, arguing that Lamichhane was not qualified to become a member of Parliament as his citizenship was not valid at the time of contesting the election from Chitwan district.
The apex court stripped his position as a lawmaker, saying “Lamichhane had not initiated a process to acquire Nepali citizenship certificate after renouncing the US citizenship.” His posts as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Home Affairs, Party president and lawmaker all become void after losing the citizenship certificate, according to advocate Basaula, one of the petitioners.
The governmnet led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' might face trouble as one of the key components of the ruling alliance is facing crisis due to the court verdict to nullify Lamichhane’s Parliament membership.
It is not yet clear what will be the fate of his party RSP and whether Lamichhane will get any punishment for violating the citizenship act, Basaula said.
He first courted controversy after working here as a US citizen without acquiring job permission. He then quit the US citizenship in 2018 but never applied to revoke the Nepali citizenship.
He established the new political party RSP by quitting the job of a TV journalist about 6-7 months ago. PTI SBP MRJ AKJ MRJ