Gangtok: The recent Supreme Court of India verdict on January 13 has sparked controversy over the term “immigrant” being used to describe the Sikkimese Nepali community. The newly formed Citizen Action Party has offered a new perspective, pointing out that the Supreme Court judgement also removed the word “Sikkimese”.
The Citizen Action Party argued that the rallies organized by the Joint Action Committee and the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha were merely a theatrical performance to cover up the misleading statements made by the Additional Advocate General.
The party claimed that the Additional Advocate General failed to argue against the striking down of the word “Sikkimese,” thereby declaring it “null and void” in the eyes of the Supreme Court.
On Sunday, the Chief Coordinator of the Citizen Action Party (CAP), Ganesh Rai, commented on the Supreme Court judgement delivered by the Division Bench, which was presided over by Justice MR Shah. He stated that there were two judges on the bench and that they delivered conflicting judgements. Rai pointed out that the judgement by Justice MR Shah mentions the striking down of the word “Sikkimese,” implying that the Supreme Court has now removed the term.
When argued in the Court, the petitioners based the removal of the word “Sikkimese” on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality. As a result, the Supreme Court has declared the word “Sikkimese” to be null and void.
Ganesh Rai, the leader of the Citizen Action Party, emphasized that the controversy over the Sikkimese Nepali community being referred to as “immigrants” has been addressed in the judgement given by Justice BV Nagararthna in the same IT exemption case.
However, he also pointed out that the focus on the “immigrant” label has overshadowed the fact that the judgement also called for the removal of the word “Sikkimese”.
According to Rai, this loss of the special status of being “Sikkimese” will not only impact the Sikkimese Nepali community but will affect other communities as well.
he CAP leader criticized the Additional Advocate General of Sikkim for not defending the removal of the word ‘Sikkimese’ in the Supreme Court. He stated that the Advocate General failed to counter the “immigrant” label on the Sikkimese Nepali community or argue against the removal of the word ‘Sikkimese’.
The CAP leader questioned why the Additional Advocate General did not bring up the fact that the Union Home Minister during demonetization in 2016 had referred to Sikkimese citizens as “special” and not equal to Indian citizens. He also pointed out that the family of the Additional Advocate General, Sudesh Joshi, was part of the petitioner group of Old Settlers, raising questions about Joshi’s integrity. The leader suggested that the state government should question the Additional Advocate General and consider removing him from his position.
Rai suggested that instead of blaming the central government, the SKM party and Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay should read the submission of Additional Solicitor General N. Venkataraman, who represented the Union Government in the case. The submission from Venkataraman defended the provision as being based on a reasonable classification of Sikkim Subjects as a distinct group, separate from migrants or settlers of Indian origin. The defence argued that this classification was made to maintain peace and harmony within the Sikkimese society and requested that it not be interfered with.
Ganesh Rai praised the Additional Solicitor General N. Venkataraman for defending the Sikkimese society by praying that the classification of Sikkim Subjects as a special group, different from migrants or settlers of Indian origin, not be interfered with. In contrast, Rai criticized the Additional Advocate General of Sikkim for not defending the striking down of the word “Sikkimese” in the Supreme Court.
Rai questioned the ignorance of the Sikkim Chief Minister and the State Law Minister regarding the issue, calling it a conspiracy to distract the people from the real issue of striking down the word “Sikkimese.” Instead of thanking the Central Government for defending the Sikkimese people through the Additional Solicitor General’s argument, they are blaming the Central Government. With the striking down of the word “Sikkimese,” there is no classification according to Article 14. The reasonable classification for Sikkim was not defended by the government’s additional advocate general, according to Rai.
CAP demanded the resignation of Sikkim’s Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay and Law Minister KN Lepcha. They stated that the government’s silence on the issue of the striking down of the word ‘Sikkimese’ for the past 17 days since the judgement was passed shows their ignorance and calls into question the Additional Advocate General’s consultation with the state government.
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Rai called on Sikkimese people to boycott the rally organized by the SKM party tomorrow, stating that it was just a performance. He questioned the ruling government for not defending the rights of the Sikkimese people in the Supreme Court. He suggested that the Sikkim Legislative Assembly hold a special session to pass an ordinance that includes the word “Sikkimese” and removes the “immigrant” tag, as specified by the Supreme Court of India. He criticized current and former Chief Ministers for calling each other leaders from Nepal and questioned how the Sikkimese community could feel secure under politicians who were destroying their rights.
CAP blended support to the protest called by the Joint Action Committee but asks its leaders to resign from their political parties and work on the issue independently through the JAC.
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