Gangtok Times Report
Gangtok, Dec 20
A delegation of Sikkim Democratic Front party led by its President and former Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling called on the Governor, Ganga Prasad here at Raj Bhawan on Friday. The SDF delegation, which has senior leaders and workers of the party, has also submitted a memorandum requesting for special exemption for Sikkim from the extension and enforcement of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 based on the special provisions of Article 371F of the Constitution of India.
“Pawan Chamling, on behalf of the SDF party and the people of Sikkim, briefed and submitted a memorandum requesting for special exemption for the State of Sikkim from the extension and enforcement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 in order to safeguard and uphold the spirit laid down in Article 371F of the Constitution of India which is a special provision provided for the State of Sikkim in the Constitution, informs a press release issued by SDF spokesperson, Krishna Lepcha.
The release mentioned that in the memorandum the party has raised various issues touching upon the social, economic, political, historical and the legal aspects with reference to Sikkim and Article 371F.
In a memorandum SDF has pointed out that with the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, a deep sense of fear and insecurity has arisen in the minds of the people of Sikkim. The people at large are very apprehensive that in case the said Act is extended and enforced in Sikkim, the same would adversely affect the rights and interest of the Sikkimese people and may also dilute the very spirit of Article 371F of the Constitution of India.
The cause for apprehension which has been created in understanding of the matter among the people is because of the, “selective exemption of the extension and enforcement of the said Act” which has been provided to some of the North Eastern States namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and some areas of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura based on the criteria such as, Tribal Autonomous District Council (TADC) and Inner Line Permit (ILP) which are constituted under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Whereas, Sikkim, which is also a part of the North Eastern States, has not been specifically referred to or mentioned as a State which falls under the exempted category or exempted from the extension and enforcement of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.
SDF Party has also extended their gratefulness towards the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister for giving full assurance that Sikkim will be exempted from the purview or enforcement of the said Act and hoped that the assurances given by the Leaders at the Centre will be fully respected and implemented in principle and spirit.
Sikkim Democratic Front Party has requested governor to look into this matter and consider appropriate action to be taken within the powers bestowed upon you as the Constitutional Head of the State. “To ensure that Sikkim be exempted from the extension and enforcement of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 as per the relevant provisions of law to uphold the very essence of Article 371F in letter and spirit in the interest of the different sections of the people of Sikkim.
It is to be mentioned here that under the Sikkim Government Gazette Extraordinary, bearing No. 995/H/75, dated 21st June, 1975, those persons who immediately before 26th April, 1975 were the Sikkim Subjects or holders of the Sikkim Subject Certificates under the Sikkim Subjects Regulation, 1961 became citizens of India. This is an important historical and political aspect which needs to be appreciated wherein, that the Sikkim Subjects Certificate was the sole criteria for granting citizenship of India to the people of Sikkim at the time of merger. In order to safeguard the very spirit of Article 371F, the legal heirs and successors of the Sikkim Subject Certificate holders and the bonafide Sikkimese people as laid down by the law are provided with the Certificate of Identification. Subsequently, in 1989, at the request of the then Government of Sikkim, 73,431 unregistered persons were also given Indian Citizenship vide Order No. 26030/36/90-I.C.I issued by the Ministry of Home, Government of India, New Delhi dated 7th August, 1990 and vide Order No. 26030/36/90-ICI dated 8th April 1991. The reason for granting Citizenship of India to such unregistered persons was that, such persons were persons who were eligible to be entered in the Register maintained under the said Sikkim Subject Regulation, 1961 but were not entered because of genuine omissions. It is important to note that even under this enactment such persons were deemed to have become the citizens of India with effect from 26th April, 1975, in terms of Sikkim (Citizenship) Order, 1975.
Furthermore, during the tenure of the Sikkim Democratic Front Government, Residential Certificates were also issued to certain sections of the people who are also referred to as the Old Settlers who were residing in Sikkim on or prior to 26th April, 1975, “Appointed Day”. In addition to these sections of people, there are many residents in Sikkim from various parts of India and who are bonafide citizens of the Country. It is a matter of record that these different sections of the people of Sikkim have been living in complete unity, peace and harmony for generations. In view of the sequence of events and legal consideration expressed therein, there is great apprehension amongst the people that with the extension and enforcement of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, it will dilute the very fabric of Sikkimese society and also adversely affect the social, political and economic rights and interests of the ethnic Sikkimese people. Further, the same may also violate the very object and spirit of Article 371F of the Constitution of India.
Sikkim being a sensitive border State, the foreigners who desire to visit Sikkim, are required to obtain the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) and, further, even for the Indian citizens they are required to obtain the Protected Area Permit (PAP) from the concerned authorities for visiting certain protected areas within Sikkim as notified by the Government of India. It is imperative to also bring to your kind notice and refer to Notification No. 848/HP (Home and Police Department), dated 10th December, 1965. As per the said Notification, it is clear that every foreigner entering Sikkim or residing therein were required to obtain a “Work Permit” from the concerned authorities. The said Notification also states that any foreigner, who has obtained or continues in such employment without the grant of a Work Permit, shall be liable to be deported from Sikkim forthwith. However, as per the said Notification, a citizen of India was not deemed to be a foreigner at the relevant time. The geographical location of Sikkim is vulnerable and very sensitive as it is surrounded by three international borders namely, China, Bhutan and Nepal. In view of this important fact and for the overall security of the nation, the relevance and application of this Notification and the contents therein is very important. This particular law is safeguarded under Article 371F (k) of the Constitution of India which states that; “all laws in force immediately before the appointed day in the territories comprised in the State of Sikkim or any part thereof shall continue to be in force therein until amended and repealed by a competent legislature or other competent authority”.