Police have started an investigation into the citizenship dispute involving Rabi Lamichhane, the chairman of the Rashtriya Swatantra Party, who was elected to the House of Representatives from Chitwan-2 in the November 20 elections.
Kathmandu District Administration Office has sent a letter to the police to look into the allegation against Lamichhane. The police have started an investigation, said Superintendent of Police Dineshraj Mainali.
Lamichhane has been accused of not revoking his Nepali citizenship even after becoming an American citizen. He allegedly used his old citizenship for contesting elections though he had renounced American citizenship.
DP Aryal, RSP vice-chair, expressed ignorance about the police investigation. “We had clarified to the EC regarding the matter,” he added.
A Nepali news website, www.ukeraa.com, had reported on November 26 that Lamichhane, despite having an American passport, got a Nepali passport using his old citizenship document.
According to ukeraa.com, Lamichhane is using the same citizenship he got in 1994.
He later got American citizenship, but he does not seem to have given up his Nepali citizenship.
As per the law, as soon as a Nepali becomes a citizen of another country, their Nepali citizenship becomes defunct. The onus of giving up Nepali citizenship after acquiring another country’s citizenship lies on the person concerned. But it seems that Lamichhane acquired a Nepali passport in 2015 based on his defunct citizenship. According to ukeraa.com, Lamichhane acquired a Nepali passport on 27 May 2015.
The website states that he got an American passport on 5 March 2014 and he renounced the same on 18 May 2018.
Lamichhane filed the nomination for the November 20 parliamentary election using his old citizenship.
A complaint was filed against him at the Election Commission on this matter. But by the time the commission sought clarification from him, the polling had already taken place. Later, a complaint against him was filed at the Ministry of Home Affairs as well.
After receiving the complaint, the MoHA sent a letter to the District Administration Office. If proven guilty of obtaining a Nepali passport before relinquishing his American citizenship, Lamichhane will have to face a hefty fine and/or imprisonment. In that case, his election from Chitwan-2 will also become null and void.
The law also stipulates strict punishment for obtaining or attempting to obtain a passport or travel permit by giving fabricated documents or false information.
The Section 21 (a) of the Passport Act stipulates that passports cannot be obtained by giving false information. According to Section 22 of the act, the offence carries a fine ranging from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh or imprisonment from one year to three years or both.
Recently, Lamichhane won a parliamentary seat from Chitwan-2 after defeating his nearest rival Umesh Shrestha of the Nepali Congress by a margin of 34,170 votes. Lamichhane got 49,261 votes, whereas Shrestha got 15,091 votes.