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Sikkimese-Nepalese reference to 'persons of foreign origin' removed from SC verdict

Supreme court

New Delhi: The Sikkimese-Nepalese should no longer be referred to as "people of foreign origin," the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday. The ruling, which dealt with Sikkim's tax exemption, was delivered on January 13.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had submitted a review petition and requested revision in response to a number of the Supreme Court's rulings that referred to Sikkimese Nepalis as "immigrants."

Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna's bench decided to remove the section "the persons of foreign origin settled in Sikkim like the Nepalese".

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, requested the bench to delete the entire sentence. Citing the reasons for the error, the bench said the original writ petitioners have made more than 25 amendments to the petition but this fact was not brought to its notice.

After a brief hearing in the matter, the bench removed the part "namely the Bhutia Lepchas and the persons of foreign origin settled in Sikkim like the Nepalese".

This remark sparked protests in Sikkim, with the Sikkimese-Nepalese community taking strong objections over it.

Mehta urged the court to clarify that its verdict did not touch the aspect of Article 371F of the Constitution, which deals with special provisions with respect to Sikkim.

The top court said this clarification is unnecessary as Article 371F was not a subject matter of the case.

It modified its verdict after hearing the plea filed by the Centre and also petitions filed by Sikkim and private parties seeking modification of the remark.

Justice Nagarathna, who authored the verdict on behalf of the bench, dictating the modifications in the order, said: "It is to be noted that in the said writ petition there was an amended writ petition filed pursuant to an application filed."

The apex court, in its verdict, had ruled that the exclusion of a Sikkimese woman from exemption allowed under the Income Tax Act merely because she has married a non-Sikkimese man after April 1, 2008, is "discriminatory and unconstitutional".

With inputs from IANS

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TAGS:supreme courtImmigrantsSikkimese-Nepalese
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