January 2023 Analysis: Gender & Social Inclusion

Posted by : Prashanti Poudyal


Date : 2023-01-30

The citizenship issue brought forth by Rabi Lamichhane’s negligence to acquire a new citizenship upon giving up his American citizenship, costed him to lose his position as a lawmaker. Subsequently, Sandeep Lamichhane was bailed on a bond and some conditions by Patan High Court. With Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s expansion of cabinet, women leaders share 26% of the cabinet, the highest so far.

Timeline of Major Events

Date Events
12 January  Patan High Court ordered the release of the suspended cricketer, Sandeep Lamichhane on a bail bond of Nrs. 2 million with conditions.
17 January Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal gives the full shape to his cabinet, with women leaders getting a share of 26% and one leader from the Madhesi community.
27 January  Supreme Court annuls Rabi Lamichhane’s status as a lawmaker citing his citizenship to be invalid.
29 January Rabi Lamichhane reacquires citizenship from the District Administration Office, Kathmandu

Rabi Lamichhane – No Longer in the Cabinet

The Supreme Court on January 27, 2022 scrapped Rabi Lamichhane’s status as a Member of the House of Representative, and consequently as the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister. A writ petition had been filed against Lamichhane for contesting the November 2022 election using his old citizenship that had been nullified by default after he acquired an American citizenship. He had clearly violated the Nepal Citizenship Act, Section 10, wherein it states that upon giving up his/her foreign citizenship, if the citizen wishes to reclaim the Nepali citizenship, he/she shall have to mandatorily apply for it.

In February 1994, Lamichhane had acquired citizenship by descent from the District Administration Office in Kathmandu. In 2014, he became the citizen of the United States of America, which automatically scrapped his Nepali citizenship, as per Nepal’s Citizenship Act, Section 10. He should’ve reapplied for the Nepali citizenship however, he did not and chose to use his old citizenship for the November 2022 election.
After being stripped off of his status within the parliament, Lamichhane, on January 29, 2023, reacquired his Nepali citizenship; this time, completing due legal procedure from the District Administration Office, Kathmandu.
Evidently, Lamichhane did not follow the due procedure that was clearly laid out in the Citizenship Act. Following the controversy, many other past and present parliamentarians’ citizenship statuses were raised; for example, Narayan Khadka or Minendra Rijal’s, who were also foreign citizens in the past. However, they completed the due procedure of reacquiring citizenship, even though the procedure in the past was much cumbersome than it is now. Lamichhane failed to abide by the procedure nonetheless, even with a simpler method now.

Noted expert and former Ambassador, Vijay Kant Karna commented upon the general favoritism towards the Khas-Arya community. While there are thousands who are stateless and haven’t been able to acquire citizenship; a person of Khas-Arya community carrying an invalid citizenship certificate as well as an American passport is left free of investigation. Rabi Lamichhane freely contested for the federal election with minimal objection and wide positive sentiment. While Lamichhane’s case was filed at the Election Commission, with proof, he nevertheless ended up winning the election as well as becoming the Home Minister of the nation. Imagine if there was a person of Dalit or Madhes origin; would the person be met with same clemency?

Sandeep Lamichhane Rape Case

Outrage poured in when Sandeep Lamichhane was bailed on January, after Patan High Court ordered his release. People reacted to the incident with mixed sentiment: while his fans welcomed him with garlands and cheers right outside the jail, rights activists voiced upon the frivolity with which this case was handled. Concerns have been raised on behalf of the survivor, who rights activists fear must be feeling neglected by the judiciary.
The district court had ordered for preliminary investigation on Sandeep Lamichhane’s case before it could decide to release him on bail; however, Lamichhane reached to the Patan High Court to make his appeal against the order of the Kathmandu District Court. While the Patan High Court released him in bond and some conditions, Kathmandu District Court had observed that ‘the prima facie evidences showed that the court could not conclude that he was innocent.’ Thus, the district court had refused his appeal for bail. According to Section 219 of the Criminal Code 2074, Lamichanne should serve up-to 12-years in jail-term if found guilty.

On January 12, the Patan High Court ordered the release of the suspended cricketer, Sandeep Lamichhane on a bail bond of Nrs. 2 million with conditions. By a joint bench of judges, Dhruva Raj Nanda and Ramesh Dahal, the High Court made the order, but barred the cricketer from travelling abroad and forbade him from contacting the victim. Earlier, the Kathmandu District Court had passed the order to send Lamichhane to the Sundhara-based central jail, after a minor filed the case against the 22-year-old cricketer at the Metropolitan Police Circle, Gaushala for engaging in a non-consensual sexual encounter with her. The district attorney had demanded compensation from him on behalf of the victim for alleged physical and mental torture. Challenging the order, Lamichhane then moved to the High Court. Upon his release, Chatur Bahadur Chand, the president of the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) said that CAN will respect the law and abide by it, in regard to the return of suspended cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane to the Men’s team.

Inclusion within the New Government

For the first time, women leaders got a 26% share in the newly formed cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. On January 17, the newly appointed Prime Minister expanded his 8-member cabinet to 23 members. Six women ministers, namely Rekha Sharma from Maoist Centre as Communications Minister, Jwala Kumari Shah from UML as Agriculture Minister, Sushila Adhikari from Maoist Centre as State Minister for Tourism and Toshima Karki for the Rastriya Swatantra Party as the state minister for Health were also appointed.
However, Janamukti’s Abdul Khan is the only Madhesi minister, while three other Madhesi parties – Janata Samajwadi Party, Loktantrik Samajwadi Party and Nagarik Unmukti Party did not join the government.
While parties contested so few women leaders for the First-Past-the-Post positions in the November election, their highest share so far is noteworthy. The 26% share in the cabinet, however only gives their descriptive representation, and not necessarily substantive representation. Women leaders, especially those who come under the 33% women’s quota, are often looked down upon in the parliament.