KATHMANDU, Feb 27: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday issued an order allowing rape-accused cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane to travel to foreign countries to play cricket matches.
A joint bench of justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Kumar Chudal overturned the earlier verdict of Patan High Court. The High Court had permitted the authority concerned to release Lamichhane against a bail amount of Rs 2 million, while barring the alleged cricketer from leaving the country on any pretext.
Interestingly, the SC’s order in Lamichhane’s case coincides with the release of actor Paul Shah, who had been facing allegation for raping an underage girl. The Pokhara High Court on Sunday gave a clean chit to Shah, who had been in jail on charge of raping a minor.
Former captain of the national cricket team of Nepal, Lamichhane has also been facing similar allegations. He had filed a petition against the High Court’s decision, demanding that the ban on him from going abroad be lifted and he be allowed to play cricket matches in the UAE.
Nepal achieved a clean-sweep in the ICC World Cup League-2 triangular series recently held in the country’s home ground. Lamichhane played an important role in winning the four games. Lamichhane, who returned to the field after a long time, took 13 important wickets in four matches.
Following the notable victory, Nepali team is now in the UAE. Nepal is playing two matches each with Papua New Guinea and the UAE. The first match with Papua New Guinea is taking place on Monday, while Nepali team is left to play another three games.
On September 6, a 17-year-old girl lodged a complaint at the Gaushala Police Station, accusing Lamichhane of raping her in a hotel room. Lamichhane surrendered to the police on October 6. He has been denying the allegations labeled against him.
On November 4, a single bench of Judge Madhav Prasad Ghimire at Kathmandu District Court had ordered Sandeep to be sent to prison for preliminary investigation. Sandeep's lawyer filed an appeal at the Patan High Court against the decision.
On January 12, the Patan High Court overturned the Kathmandu District Court's decision to send him to prison. The High Court ordered Sandeep to be released on bail of Rs 2 million under various conditions. He was released on bail from the Central Jail in Sundhara on January 13.