Ex-Nepal Cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane Granted Permission to Face Rape Case Without Custodial Remand

Sandeep Lamichhane

The Patan High Court has granted Sandeep Lamichhane, the former captain of the Nepali Cricket team, permission to face his rape case without custodial remand, according to court officials.

Lamichhane, who has been convicted of rape, filed a petition in the High Court challenging the Kathmandu District Court’s eight-year prison sentence in the case.

The Kathmandu District Court had previously convicted Lamichhane, imposing an eight-year prison term along with a fine of 3,00,000 rupees and compensation of 2,00,000 rupees. The conviction was based on allegations of coercion, suggesting that Lamichhane took advantage of the victim’s financial vulnerability and exerted undue influence.

Lamichhane’s petition to the High Court disputes the existence of substantial evidence supporting the claims of financial coercion mentioned in the verdict. He contends that the district court’s assertion regarding financial transactions lacks credible evidence.

The former cricket captain was accused of rape by a minor, with the case focusing on the age of the girl, leading to subsequent hearing postponements. The Apex Court had earlier ordered the case to be concluded through a fast-track process.

The hearings had been repeatedly paused as the accused, Lamichhane, traveled to Zimbabwe to participate in the World Cup qualifiers. Although he was initially held in custody for a few months, he was later released on bail and permitted to travel abroad. Upon returning to Nepal, the hearings have encountered delays.

On January 12 last year, the Patan High Court had overturned the Kathmandu District Court’s order to detain Lamichhane in judicial custody, citing insufficient grounds to keep him incarcerated. He was released on bail of Rs 2 million the next day.

Despite the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) appealing to the Supreme Court (SC) against his release on bail, Lamichhane was granted bail under five conditions, including a prohibition on international travel.

The OAG argued that Lamichhane’s release on bail contradicted legal provisions and the SC’s interpretation during bail hearings in similar cases. However, Lamichhane was allowed by the SC to travel with the national team to the UAE for ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 matches against the UAE and Papua New Guinea.

The Kathmandu District Government Attorney’s Office (DGAO) had registered a case against Lamichhane, charging him with raping a minor. Police investigated Lamichhane under Section 219 of the National Penal (Code) Act, 2017, following a complaint filed by a 17-year-old girl.

The DGAO demanded a prison sentence of up to 12 years against Lamichhane, as per the legal provision, and sought compensation for the victim. Lamichhane has denied the rape allegation but admitted to staying in the same hotel room as the girl on the night in question.

The girl accused Lamichhane of raping her multiple times in the hotel room, with CCTV footage corroborating his presence at the hotel for seven hours. An arrest warrant was issued against Lamichhane, leading to his suspension from the national team by the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN).

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte