American Or Nepali? Home Minister Loses Citizenship Battle
KATHMANDU, (IANS) – Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Rabi Lamichhane, accused of holding dual Nepali and American citizenship, on January 27 lost the citizenship battle, as the Supreme Court annulled his status as a lawmaker.
A constitutional bench held that the citizenship certificate he produced to contest the parliamentary election was invalid.
Lamichhane, a former media person, entered politics last June by forming a new party, Rastriya Swatantra Party, which won 14 seats in the recent elections.
On December 14, advocates Yubaraj Poudel and Rabiraj Basaula filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court arguing that Lamichhane cannot become a member of parliament because he doesn’t have Nepali citizenship.
The petitioners demanded that Lamichhane should be removed from the post of party chief, contending that only Nepali citizens have a constitutional right to vote in the elections, become candidates, and set up political parties in the country. The petitioners had contended that Lamichhane’s positions as a member of the lower house and party President were illegal.
Lamichhane, a media person by profession, returned to Nepal a few months after becoming an American citizen and started working here.
After four years, a complaint was lodged in the Press Council of Nepal saying that he was working in Nepal without a work permit. A foreign national need a permit to work in Nepal. Only after the criticism did Lamichhane, in May 2018, abandon the American citizenship and its proof was presented to the Department of Immigration.
He, however, never applied to reclaim his citizenship. Lamichhane’s lawyers had argued that as he never renounced Nepali citizenship, his citizenship from 1994 got automatically revived the day he surrendered American citizenship.
The Citizenship Act, however, doesn’t say so. Section 11 says if any citizen of Nepal, who has acquired foreign citizenship, returns to reside in Nepal and submits a notification to the designated authority the evidence of renunciation of foreign citizenship, his/her Nepali citizenship shall be provided again once he/she submits the evidence of renunciation.