Fri, 01 Dec 2023

Kathmandu [Nepal], February 27 (ANI): Nepal's Supreme Court ruled in favour of rape-accused Nepali star cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane, as it lifted the travel ban on him.

In an earlier decision, the court had barred him from participating in the ongoing one-day series in the United Arab Emirates.

Upon the delivery of the verdict, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) has started preparations to send him on the UAE tour.

A division bench of justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Kumar Chudal ruled in favour of the player as he sought an end to the travel ban.

"The defendant is a National and International level player and is required to travel within Nepal and abroad to take part in competitions. The travel ban imposed by High Court Patan over "Case 21, Section A" on 2079 Poush 28 (January 12, 2023) doesn't comply with it which therefore has been lifted for this cause.

The defendant now has appealed to go abroad for World Cup Asia Selection, as per which travel permission Sandeep Lamichhane has been granted and is directed that his passport should be removed from the blacklist in case it is in effect. It is also advised that the concerned authorities should be well informed about it and the defendant Sandeep Lamichhane should be present infront of the court within 15 days upon his arrival back home which shall not count the days required to travel," the court has stated in the verdict.

The case against Lamichhane is registered with the Kathmandu District Court. Now as per the ruling of the Supreme Court, the star cricketer should report to the District Court about his arrival back home and make updates on the case.

The Court also has warned Lamichhane that the verdict can be cancelled anytime in case of violation of the order from the court. Along with this, it has directed the Kathmandu District Court to complete the hearing over the case through fast track and deliver the verdict.

"The lodged case is about coercion and the defendant is national and international levelcricketer with a high public interest. Therefore it is advised to the Kathmandu District Courtthat verdict should be delivered by expediting the hearing through fast track," the verdictstated.

On Monday in a separate hearing, the court also upheld the Patan High Court's decision to keep Lamichhane out on bail. Last month, the Office of the Attorney General filed a petition challenging the decision of Patan High Court to release Lamichhane on bail. It demanded revocation of the high court's decision and further probe into the rape charges against him by keeping him in judicial custody.

A joint bench of judges Dhruva Raj Nanda and Ramesh Dahal on January 12 had ordered the release of the suspended cricketer on bail with conditions. Following the high court's verdict, Lamichhane was released from custody on January 13 after posting a bail of NRs 2 million.

Earlier this month, Lamichhane again filed a petition at the top court after the High Court barred him from travelling abroad.

He demanded an order to permit him to travel to the United Arab Emirates for a triangular series of the ICC World Cup League 2 to start on February 27. The single bench of Justice Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada had on February 24 decided to conduct the final hearing on Lamichhane's plea together with the petition from Attorney General's Office that has knocked the Supreme Court's door against the High Court's move to release the cricketer on bail.

With the travel ban lifted, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) has now revamped preparations to send Lamichhane for the UAE tour. The chairman of the CAN, Chatur Bahadur Chand has informed that preparations are underway. "We are trying to send him as a replacement but we are waiting for the final decision from the ICC," Chand confirmed ANI.

The District Attorney's Office, Kathmandu has lodged a case against Lamichhane accusing him of raping a 17-year-old girl on August 21, 2022. He has been charged under Section 219 of the Criminal Code 2017.

On September 6 last year, the minor registered the first information report against the 22-year-old cricketer at the Metropolitan Police Circle Gaushala, Kathmandu. On October 1, Lamichhane announced that he would return to Nepal on October 6 to face legal charges. Soon after he landed at the airport, he was arrested by officials at the Department of Immigration and the police personnel. (ANI)

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