Supreme Court Rectifies Itself; Sikkimese-Nepalis Are Indians As We Are

Sikkimese-Nepali Remark

The Supreme Court on Wednesday removed the observations in its judgment that referred Sikkimese-Nepalese persons as “people of foreign origin.”

This remark, made in the case of Association of Old Settlers of Sikkim vs Union of India, sparked protests in Sikkim, with the Sikkimese-Nepalese community expressing strong objections.

A bench comprising of Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna delivered the decision.

The contentious part of the judgement by Justice Nagarathna was as follows: “Therefore, there was no difference made out between the persons of foreign origin settled in Sikkim, such as the Nepalis or persons of Indian origin who had settled down in Sikkim generations ago, and the Bhutia-Lepchas, who were the original inhabitants of Sikkim.”

The bench, initially, agreed to remove the part “the persons of foreign origin settled in Sikkim like the Nepalis”. Tushar Mehta, India’s Solicitor General, requested that the entire sentence be removed. The bench then agreed to strike the phrase “Bhutia Lepchas and persons of foreign origin settled in Sikkim, such as Nepalese.”

During the hearing, the bench said that the writ petition had made certain amendments to the writ petition, which were not brought to the notice of the court.

While dictating the modification order, Justice Nagarathna stated, “It should be noted that an amended writ petition was filed in response to an application filed… Unfortunately, learned counsel for the writ petitioners did not bring the substantial amendments brought to the attention of this court. It was their responsibility to bring this to the attention of the court. Now an MA has been filed seeking corrections, as if a mistake was made by the court… However, after hearing learner senior counsel for the respective parties, we believe it is just and proper to correct certain words in my judgement in paragraphs 10A and 68.8…”

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte